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Linking aggregation of Aspergillus niger spores to surface electrostatics: a theoretical approach

DOI: 10.1186/1559-4106-8-7

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Abstract:

The effect of medium pH on conidial aggregation during submerged cultivation of Aspergillus niger is considered to originate from the electrostatic surface properties of the spores. As previously shown, these properties are greatly influenced by the presence of a melanin-containing surface coating covering the outer spore wall layer. The present study was designed to elucidate the impact of such a coating on the spores' surface potential and their electrostatic repulsion under acidic conditions. A Poisson-Boltzmann model was proposed and potential profiles across the surface coating of noninteracting and interacting spores were calculated. The surface potentials thus obtained were in line with the observed pH dependence of the zeta potential. This dependence was consistent with the outcome of aggregation experiments. Apparently contradictory results regarding the zeta potential and the aggregation behavior of the spores were obtained when the ionic strength was varied. However, both of these observations could be explained by the model.

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