I visited SINTEF in Trondheim, Norway in May 2018 to perform mass spectrometry on press water samples from wood (spruce and Douglas fir) and to conduct fermentations with fungi (Myceliophthora thermophila and Trichoderma reesei RUT- C30) and the press water from Douglas fir as a substrate. The press water is generated during mechanical drying of wood pellets and is deemed usable for enzyme production by fungi and for the isolation of organic compounds.

The goal was to find out more about the compounds in the press water and to check its usability as a substrate in fermentations for enzyme production by fungi. By LC/MS (QTOF) and FT-ICR, we were able to generate probable formulas for compounds in the press water, and we were able to see larger molecules than the GC/MS appliance in my home facility—analysing up to 1222 Da vs. up to 650 Da.

The fermentations showed an increasing maximum carbon dioxide production with an increasing content of press water in the media, indicating better growth in press water than in standard media. The salt concentration, pH value and temperature were constant for all conditions per fungus.

Assays detecting enzymatic activity of cellulases and hemicellulases and Bradford assays to quantify the proteins in the samples are going to be performed at my home institute, TUM, to follow up on these observations.
Moreover, the pellets are going to weighed to measure the increase of biomass. In the end, enzymatic activity, growth and protein concentration are going to be evaluated in each other’s context.
The BRISK2 program gave me access to technology my home institute does not possess—LC/MS, FT-ICR and fermentation laps. I also benefitted from the knowledge of people working at SINTEF regarding these processes, especially in the context of fermentation. I familiarized myself with new techniques and analytical methods that will certainly come in handy in the future.