What heat is telling us about microbial conversions in nature and technology: from chip- to megacalorimetry
Article first published online: 1 JUN 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 3, Issue 3, pages 269–284, May 2010
How to Cite
Maskow, T., Kemp, R., Buchholz, F., Schubert, T., Kiesel, B. and Harms, H. (2010), What heat is telling us about microbial conversions in nature and technology: from chip- to megacalorimetry. Microbial Biotechnology, 3: 269–284. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7915.2009.00121.x
- Issue published online: 20 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 1 JUN 2009
- Received 2 February, 2009; revised 9 April, 2009; accepted 13 April, 2009.
The exploitation of microorganisms in natural or technological systems calls for monitoring tools that reflect their metabolic activity in real time and, if necessary, are flexible enough for field application. The Gibbs energy dissipation of assimilated substrates or photons often in the form of heat is a general feature of life processes and thus, in principle, available to monitor and control microbial dynamics. Furthermore, the combination of measured heat fluxes with material fluxes allows the application of Hess' law to either prove expected growth stoichiometries and kinetics or identify and estimate unexpected side reactions. The combination of calorimetry with respirometry is theoretically suited for the quantification of the degree of coupling between catabolic and anabolic reactions. New calorimeter developments overcome the weaknesses of conventional devices, which hitherto limited the full exploitation of this powerful analytical tool. Calorimetric systems can be integrated easily into natural and technological systems of interest. They are potentially suited for high-throughput measurements and are robust enough for field deployment. This review explains what information calorimetric analyses provide; it introduces newly emerging calorimetric techniques and it exemplifies the application of calorimetry in different fields of microbial research.