American Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 2013, 4, 594-599
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajac.2013.410070 Published Online October 2013 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ajac)
Optimization of Fermentation Medium for
Producing α-Hydroxyphenylacetic Acid by Using
Plackett-Burman Design and Response Surface
Zhiguo Hou1, Bingmei Chen1, Jing Lan1, Yueman Liu1, Xiaoping Xu1#, James Yu Gu2, Junjie Gu3
1Collage of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Fuzhou University, Fujian, Fuzhou, China
2Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
3Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Received May 9, 2013; revised June 9, 2013; accepted July 10, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Zhiguo Hou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Plackett-Burman design and response surface methodology were applied in order to optimize the fermentation medium
of (R)-α-hydroxyphenylacetic acid ((R)-HPA) producing Bacillus sp. HZG-19. The factors playing important roles in
the production of (R)-HPA were selected based on Plackett-Burman design. The path of steepest ascent was undertaken
to optimize said fermentation medium. Finally, the optimal levels of the factors with the greatest change in regard to
product yield were further optimized using Box-Behnken and response surface analysis. The optimal conditions were
found to be as follows: casein peptone 30.49 (g × L−1), glycerol 14.09 (g × L−1), KH2PO4 0.1345 (g × L−1), K2HPO4
0.01 (g × L−1), CaCl2 0.1 (g × L−1), MnSO4 0.01 (g × L−1). Under the optimal conditions described above, the yield of
(R)-HPA reached 63.30%, which indicated an increase of 14.9%, as compared to the yield obtained before optimization.
Keywords: α-Hydroxyphenylacetic Acid; Fermentation Medium; Biotransformation; Response Surface Analysis
α-Hydroxyphenylacetic acid (mandelic acid) (HPA) and
its derivatives are key intermediates for the production of
various pharmaceuticals, such as semi-synthetic penicil-
lins and cephalosporins [1-3]. It is also used as a chiral
resolving agent and chiral synthon for the synthesis of
anti-tumor and anti-obesity agents . Many methods
have been reported for the preparation of enantiomeri-
cally pure (S)-or (R)-α-Hydroxyphenylacetic acid [5-9].
For example, the synthesis of enantiopure α-Hydroxy-
phenylacetic acid has been investigated through dias-
tereomeric crystallization . It has also been prepared
by the chemo-enzymatic routes , from methyl man-
delate by lipase-catalyzed hydrolysis , or from ki-
netic resolution . However, these approaches are lim-
ited in their industrial application due to the expensive
catalysts, limited efficiency and low yields.
Recently we have reported a new bacterial strain, Ba-
cillus sp. HZG-19, which is capable of degrading phenyl-
glyoxylic acid (PGA) and affording (R)-HPA with high
optical purity. Numerous variables will have an effect on
the production of HPA, hence, factors playing important
roles in the production of pure enantimomeric (R)-HPA
are crucial for large scale production. Plackett-Burman,
Box-Behnken design and response surface methodology
are inexpensive and accurate methods for further opti-
mization of the fermentation medium.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Strain and Chemicals
The strain (Bacillus sp. HZG-19) was preserved in the
lab of Chemical Engineering Department, Fuzhou Uni-
versity. (R)-HPA and (S)-HPA were purchased from
Sigma (St. Louis, MO USA). Phenylglyoxylic acid (PGA,
>98%) was supplied by Pharmaceutical & Chemical Co.,
Ltd of Taizhou, China. Methyl alcohol of HPLC grade
was purchased from Merck, Germany. Hydroxypropyl-
*The work was supported by the Doctoral Fund of Ministry of Educa-
tion (No. 20103514110002) and the Major Plan Project of Science and
Technology of Fujian Province (No. 2009N0046).
opyright © 2013 SciRes. AJAC
Z. G. HOU ET AL. 595
β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) was supplied by Fluka (Neu
Ulm, Germany). All other chemicals were obtained from
local suppliers and of reagent grade.
Seed medium (g × L−1): casein peptone 10, beef extract 5,
maltose 10, NaCl2, pH 7.2.
Fermentation medium (FM) (g × L−1): casein peptone
20, glycerol 10, K2HPO4 0.01, KH2PO4 0.1, CaCl2 0.1,
MnSO4 0.01, pH 7.2.
Medium for slant culture (SM): same as seed medium
with 2% (w/v) of agar.
2.3. Culture Conditions
The strain, Bacillus sp. HZG-19, was inoculated into 20
ml seed medium in 50 ml Erlenmeyer flasks and cultured
aerobically at 32˚C on a shaker (180 rpm). When the
cells reached logarithmic phase, cultures were then in-
oculated (1%, v/v) into 50 ml flasks containing 20 ml of
FM medium at the same fermentation conditions. PGA
solution, with a final concentration of 15 mM, was added
directly into the fermentation broth under aseptic condi-
tions. After 24 h of incubation, the supernatant that was
obtained after centrifugation from the medium and was
subjected to HPLC analysis and HPCE analysis to de-
termine the concentration and purity of the HPA gener-
2.4. Analytical Methods
The concentrations of substrate and product were deter-
mined by HPLC using a reverse phase column (Agilent
HC-C 18, Ø 4.6 mm × 250 mm, 5 μm). The mobile phase
is composed of methanol and phosphate buffer (25
mmol/L) (15:85, v/v) containing 6 mmol/L of tetrabu-
tylammonium bromide (pH 6.8) at the rate of 1.0 ml/min.
A UV detector (at 220 nm) was employed for quantifica-
The yield of HPA is expressed as:
where CHPA and CPGA represent the concentration of
the HPA generated and initial concentration of PGA,
respectively. The concentration of (R)-HPA and (S)-HPA
were determined by HPCE. Detection was made at 214
nm using a buffer solution of Tris-phosphoric acid (100
mmol/L, pH 7.6) containing 150 g/L of hydroxypropyl-
β-cyclodextrin. A voltage of 20 KV was applied at a
temperature of 20˚C.
where [R] and [S] are the concentration of (R)-HPA and
3. Results and Discussion
is extremely useful in
ation of experi-
Table 1. Design matrix and experimental results of Plack-
5(X6) X7 (X8) X9Yield/%
3.1. Plackett-Burman Design
The Plackett-Burman (PB) design
screening and selecting for the most vital factors within a
large candidate pool . The experiments were carried
out according to the design matrix shown in Table 1,
with each row representing one trial while each column
represents a single variable. The six factors listed are:
casein peptone, glycerol, KH2PO4, K2HPO4, CaCl2,
MnSO4, respectively. Three variables (X4, X6, X8) are
dummy variables employed to evaluate the standard er-
rors of the experiment. Elements (1) and (−1) are repre-
sentative of the relative amounts each variable factor,
either high or low, within each experimental trial. Yield
of HPA is considered as response value.
Levels selection and significance evalu
ental variables are summarized in Table 2. Generally,
effects with a confidence level of greater than 95% are
considered to be actual effects, whereas a confidence
level of less than 95% indicates that the effect may have
resulted due to chance. As shown in Table 2, the confi-
dence level of factors casein peptone (X1), glycerol (X2)
and KH2PO4 (X3) are shown to be above 95% and con-
sidered to be significant. The rest of the factors, K2HPO4
(X5), CaCl2 (X7) and MnSO4 (X9) had a confidence of
below 95% in HPA production and hence, were consid-
ered insignificant. The high level of X5, X7 and the low
level of X9 were selected during further optimization
Run XX X
1 1−11 −1−1−1 1 1 1 59.52
2 11−11 −1−1 −1 1 160.71
3 −11 1 −11 −1 −1 −1 152.83
4 1−111 −11 −1 −1 −1 61.72
5 11−11 1 −1 1 −1 −162.34
6 111−11 1 −1 1 −1 61.31
7 −1111 −11 1 −1 156.63
8 −1−111 1 −1 1 1 −1 54.02
9 −1−1−11 1 1 −1 1 142.12
10 1−1−1−11 1 1 −1 151.32
11 −11−1−1−11 1 1 −1 51.90
12 −1−1−1−1−1−1 −1 −1 −145.05
Eapeafo ilichmoch exerimnt ws perrmedn tripates, te sae belw.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. AJAC
Z. G. HOU ET AL.
Table 2. Levels selection and significance evaluation of ex-
Low (−gh (1)
T-test Pr > |t| Significancy
X1 20 13.1833 0.0057 1* 30
X2 10 15 7.7648 0.0162 3*
X3 0.1 0.15 7.9100 0.0156 2*
X5 0.01 0.015 −2.8302 0.1054 6
1 0.15 2.9269 0.0996 5
X9 0.01 015 3.2172 0.0845 4
*Ine thatignificanf m5%nce.
eepest ascent search
g/L)glycerol (g/L) KH2PO4 (g/L)Yield (%)
dicat the scy is oore than 9 confide
3.2. Steepest Ascent Design to Approach the
The steepest ascent method was applied in order to in-
vestigate optimal substrate concentration, by slowly in-
creasing substrates along the path of steepest ascent until
no further increase in response is observed . Based
on the experimental results of PB, casein peptone, glyc-
erol and KH2PO4 should be increased due to their posi-
tive effect (positive value for t). Table 3 represents the
design and results of the steepest ascent search experi-
ment. As shown in Table 3, optimal fermentation me-
dium should be around run 2, so the level of run 2 is con-
sidered as center point in the follow-up response surface
3.3. Response Surface Analysis (RSM) and
Establishment of Optimum Fermentation
RSM is a statistical method by which one can find the
best conditions in a multi-factor system . Among
RSM, Box-Behnken design (BBD) method and central
composite design are more frequently used than the oth-
ers. When the number of the experimental factors does
not exceed 5, Box-Behnken method is more economic.
Casein peptone, glycerol and KH2PO4 were determined
to be the main factors as shown through the PB experi-
X1, X2, X3 represent casein peptone, glycerol, KH2PO4
respectively and the yield of HPA shows the response
value. Factor levels were determined by steepest ascent
experiment. In order to investigate the optimum levels of
those variables and study their interactions, a three-factor
three-level BBD was applied.
A total of 15 experiments were performed in triplicates,
12 of which used different factors while 3 trials were
used as controls. Controls were used to estimate experi-
mental error. Table 4 illustrates the coded and non-coded
values of the experimental variables, with results of the
BBD experiments given in Table 5.
Table 3. Design and results of the st
Runcasein peptone (
1 25 12.5 0.125 54.12
2 28 13.5 0.135 61.92
3 31 14.5 0.145 59.37
4 34 15.5 0.155 54.10
5 37 16.5 0.165 52.35
Table 4. The coded and non-coded values of the experi-
−1 0 1
casein peptone (g/L)X1 25 28 31
glycerol (g/L) X2 12.5 13.5 14.5
KH2PO4 (g/L) X3 0.125 0.135 0.145
Table 5. Design and results of BBD experiments.
Run X1 23
X X Yield/%
1 −1 −1 0 55.53
2 −1 1 0 57.04
3 1 −1 0 56.3
4 1 1 0 62.43
5 0 −1 −1 54.13
6 0 −1 1 50.39
7 0 1 −1 56.06
8 0 1 1 56.89
9 −1 0 −1 52.78
10 1 0 −1 58.78
11 −1 0 1 52.68
12 1 0 1 56.42
13 0 0 0 61.83
14 0 0 0 62.02
15 0 0 0 61.93
ased on the experimental results of BBD (Table 5)
d regression analysis, a quadratic polynomial equation
was established to identify the relationship between yield
and variables. The model of coded units can be expressed
where Y1 is the yield of HPA, X1, X
2 and X3 represent
casein peptone, glycerol and KH2PO4, respectively.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. AJAC
Z. G. HOU ET AL.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. AJAC
was reliable with an R2 value of 0.9913. It suggested that
model was unable to explain only 0.87% of the total
variations. A low value of coefficient of the variation (C.
V.) (1.0298) clearly indicated a very high degree of pre-
cision and a good deal of reliability of the experimental
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is important in d
ining the adequacy and significance of the quadratic
model. ANOVA summary was shown in Table 6. The F-
value of 63.1957 implies that the model was significant.
A p value of <0.0001 indicated that there was only a
0.01% chance that model’s large F-value could occur due
to noise. Values of “prob > F” less than 0.0500 indicated
the significant model terms. The mathematical model
Figures 1-2 show the response and contour curves for
casein peptone, glycerol and KH2PO4. Contour curves
Figure 1. Response surface plot and contour plot for HPA yield (%) as a function of casein peptone and KH2PO4 (X1 and X3
represent casein peptone and KH2PO4, respectively).
Figure 2. Response surface plot and contour plot for HPA yield (%) as a function of glycerol and KH2PO4 (X2 and X3 repr
sent glycerol and KH2PO4, respectively).
Z. G. HOU ET AL.
Table 6. Estimated value of regression equation partial re-
ression coefficient and analysis of squareg deviation.
estimate Standard error T-test Pr >
X1 1.9875 0.2076 9.5750 0.0002
X2 2.0088 0.2076 9.6774 0.0002
X3 − −
DF SS P
197. 13% CV = 1.0298
0.6713 0.2076 3.2338 0.0231
1 * X−1.6521 0.3055 −5.4071 0.0029
X1 * X2 1.155 0.2936 3.9346 0.0110
X1 * X3 0.565 0.2936 1.9247 0.1122
X2 * X2 2.4496 0.3055 −8.0173 0.0005
X2 * X3 1.1425
0.2936 3.8920 0.0115
X3 * X3 5.1096 0.3055 16.7233 0.0001
Source MSF-valuerob > F
Model 9 0478263.19570.0001
Linear 3 67.4865
atic 3 7248 38.9083 87960.0001
nteraction 3 11.8342 3.9447 11.44440.0112
Error 5 1.7234 0.3447
Total 14 769 R = 99.
rep the fu
f two independent variables with another variable bei
neously it obtained the
logy for production of HPA.
dy clearly indicate that RSM is an ef-
ork was financially supported by the Doctoral
Fund of Ministry of Education (No. 20103514110002)
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resentHPA yield as anction of concentrations
at a fixed level. Figure 1 shows that HPA yield increases
firstly and decreases slowly afterward with the increase
of casein peptone, and that moderate KH2PO4 results in
high HPA yield. Figure 2 demonstrates that HPA yield
increases firstly and then decreases slowly with decreas-
ing glycerol, whereas moderate KH2PO4 caused HPA
yield increasing. This could be attributed to the fact that
casein peptone, KH2PO4 and glycerol were directly re-
lated with the activity of cell. As seen from Figures 1
and 2, there was a maximum response at the optimum
level of each variable and exist the interaction among the
three variables, so it was not simple linear relationship
for the effect of response value.
The ridge analysis indicated that the regression equa-
tion has no singularity. Simulta
st response surface conditions and the predictive value
of yield from the regression equation. The best theoreti-
cal levels in experiment were: X1 = 0.816, X2 = 0.592
and X3 = −0.045, that is, casein peptone 30.49 g·L−1,
glycerol 14.09 g·L−1 and KH2PO4 0.1345 g·L−1. Pre-
dicted value of yield given these conditions was 63.35%.
Validation under the optimized conditions was per-
formed in a 50 ml Erlenmeyer flask containing 20 ml
reaction medium. The experiments were conducted in
triplicate. Under optimized conditions, HPA yield
achieved in the verification experiment was 63.30%,
which was very close to the value predicted by model
based on BBD (63.35%).
Selective reduction of PGA with Bacillus sp. HZG-19 is
a very promising techno
Results of this stu
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dium. Optimum casein peptone, glycerol and KH2PO4
were found to be 30.49, 14.09 and 0.1345 g·L−1, respec-
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