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Abstract

The heat generated by both batch and continuous cultures of the yeast K. fragilis was studied using a modified Bench Scale Calorimeter. Batch cultures were used to measure the heat dissipation rates and the heat yields during fully aerobic and completely anaerobic growth, whereas continuous cultures enabled, in addition, a quantitative study of heat dissipation rates during growth on mixed metabolism. In this case, the extent of fermentation versus respiration could be specified and controlled by varying the degree of oxygen limitation. The heat dissipated per unit biomass formed was highest for fully respirative catabolism and fell continuously to a much lower value typical of anaerobic cultures as the catabolism was shifted increasingly to the fermentative mode. The heat generated per mole of oxygen taken up stayed quite close to the fully aerobic value of 506 kJ mol−1 even when a sizable fraction of the substrate available to catabolism was fermented. If the fraction of respiration in the metabolism is lowered beyond a certain threshold, the ratio of the heat generation to oxygen consumption starts to increase dramatically and finally tends to infinity for fully anaerobic growth. All experimental results were quantitatively analyzed and explained on the basis of a simple model which formally describes the cultures in terms of two parallel “chemical” reactions. In simple cases such as the one presented here, the model enables calculation of the whole stoichiometry of the culture from a single measured heat yield.