The novelty of this study was to produce humic acids by submerged fermentation of empty fruit bunch (EFB) with Trichoderma viride and to investigate the effects of the cellulosic substrates and the organic sources of nitrogen on the biotechnological production of these acids. The results obtained indicate the potential application of EFB, a waste of oil palm processing, for humic acids production. Because EFB contains cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, fermentations were also performed using these polymers as carbon sources, separately or in combination. After 120 h of fermentation, significant production of humic acids was observed only in cultures containing either EFB or a mixture of the three polymers. Use of either potato peptone or yeast extract as a nitrogen source yielded nearly identical patterns of fungal growth and production of humic acids. The data obtained from microscopic imaging of T. viride growth and sporulation in EFB, coupled with the determined rates of production of humic acids indicated that the production of these acids is related to T. viride sporulation. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:631–637, 2013
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