Measurement of oxygen solubility in fermentation media: A colorimetric method


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Methods of measuring oxygen solubility in culture media are scarce, and those available are tedious to apply. A simple colorimetric assay was developed and applied to the analysis of oxygen solubility during alcoholic fermentation. The method was based on the consumption of oxygen by glucose oxidase activity and the production of the pink quinone of syringaldazine by coupled peroxidase activity. Color formation at 526 nm progressed through an optimum that was a linear function of the oxygen added to the assay. Sensitivity was maximized by operating at pH 7 and limiting the medium sample volume added. Each assay took 10–15 min to prepare and react. Reaction time was minimized by using abundant glucose and enzyme concentrations. Data obtained by the assay developed showed good agreement with published oxygen solubilities in water and selected media at various temperatures. Subsequent analyses of fermentation broths indicated falling sugar concentration to be primarily responsible for increases in oxygen solubility during fermentation. For example, during fermentations started with 230 g/L xylose or glucose, oxygen solubility could increase by 41% due to sugar consumption alone. This procedure can provide the solubility data needed to accurately calibrate in-line electronic probes for monitoring dissolved oxygen concentration during fermentation processes.