FEMS Microbiology Letters Poster Prize: Tom Distler

We send our congratulations to Tom Distler, who won the best poster prize at the 18th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries. His poster was titled “Fermentation of spent sulphite liquor into bacterial cellulose by Acetobacter intermedius”. This award is sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Letters

The 18th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries was held on the 1-3 June 2022 in Bruges, Belgium.

Read our interview with Tom about his research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently pursuing my PhD at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna in the Advanced Biorefineries: Chemistry & Materials (ABC&M) program. For this, I work in the field of bioprocess technology at the company Wood K Plus. Prior to that, I moved to Austria from Germany to complete my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Bio- and Environmental Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Wels.”


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

In my poster, I discussed the production of bacterial cellulose from spent sulfite liquor with Acetobacter intermedius. Bacterial cellulose, as an alternative to traditional plant cellulose, has improved properties such as a higher degree of polymerization and higher crystallinity. Production from sulfite liquor has the advantage of utilizing the mostly unused stream and containing beneficial substances for the production of bacterial cellulose.

In my research, I isolated cellulose-producing bacteria from kombucha-tea and successfully grew them on sulfite liquor to produce bacterial cellulose. It is found that the sulfite liquor medium has a much higher cellulose yield compared to the standard media. This is due to the lignosulfonates in the medium, which inhibit the gluconic acid pathway of the bacteria and thus increase their cellulose production.”

Tom Distler (centre) receiving his poster prize certificate during RBB22


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

In the future, I hope to continue working on the topic of renewable resources. Biobased materials, such as bacterial cellulose, are required for a sustainable future.”


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