Jim Steele

General Manager Lactic Solutions Product Line (Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits)

Session: Speaker – Fermentation Panel

Topic: Microbial Ecology of Ethanol Biorefineries


The microbial ecology of bioethanol refineries is dominated by intentionally added yeast and contaminating bacteria, with the bacterial microbiota being dominated by lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB and yeast have co-evolved to nutritionally rich environments, like that present in corn ethanol biorefineries and complex interactions occur. To characterize this bacterial microbiota we utilized both V3-V4 16S rRNA sequencing and shotgun metagenomics. These microbiotas were determined to be relatively simple, plant specific, typically stable, with diversity decreasing throughout the process and dominated by LAB, primarily Lactobacillus. Shotgun metagenomics sequencing identified Lb. helveticus as the dominant species in these fermentations.


Jim received his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Minnesota and then became an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He retired from the UW-Madison in 2018 as the Winder Bascom Professor of Food Science. In 2016, he co-founded Lactic Solutions LLC, a company focused on developing bacterial strains for enhancement in bioethanol fermentations. Lallemand acquired Lactic Solutions in 2017 and Jim joined LBDS. He has published more than 100 refereed research articles, 18 book chapters, and 2 books on industrial fermentations.