Current Review article summarizes the developments in citric acid production technologies in East and West last 100 years. Citric acid is commercially produced by large scale fermentation mostly using selected fungal or yeast strains in aerobe bioreactors and still remains one of the runners in industrial production of biotechnological bulk metabolites obtained by microbial fermentation since about 100 years, reflecting the historical development of modern biotechnology and fermentation process technology in East and West. Citric acid fermentation was first found as a fungal product in cultures of Penicillium glaucum on sugar medium by Wehmer in 1893 . Citric acid is an important multifunctional organic acid with a broad range of versatile uses in household and industrial applications that has been produced industrially since the beginning of 20th century. There is a great worldwide demand for citric acid consumption due to its low toxicity, mainly being used as acidulant in pharmaceutical and food industries. Global citric acid production has reached 1.4 million tones, increasing annually at 3.5-4.0% in demand and consumption. Citric acid production by fungal submerged fermentation is still dominating, however new perspectives like solid-state processes or continuous yeast processes can be attractive for producers to stand in todays strong competition in industry. Further perspectives aiming in the improvement of citric acid production are the improvement of citric acid producing strains by classical and modern mutagenesis and selection as well as downstream processes. Many inexpensive by-products and residues of the agro-industry (e.g. molasses, glycerin etc.) can be economically utilized as substrates in the production of citric acid, especially in solid-state fermentation, enormously reducing production costs and minimizing environmental problems. Alternatively, continuous processes utilizing yeasts which reach 200-250 g/l citric acid can stand in todays strong competition in citric acid industry and replace the traditional discontinuous fungi processes.
Keywords: Citric acid, fermentation, Yarrowia lipolytica, Candida oleophila, Aspergillus niger
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