Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Luke A. Moe


To gain a better understanding of contaminating bacteria in bioethanol industry, we profiled the bacterial community structure in corn-based bioethanol fermentations and evaluated its correlation to environmental variables. Twenty-three batches of corn-mash sample were collected from six bioethanol facilities. The V4 region of the collective bacterial 16S rRNA genes was analyzed by Illumina Miseq sequencing to investigate the bacterial community structure. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordination plots were constructed to visualize bacterial community structure groupings among different samples, as well as the effects of multiple environmental variables on community structure variation. Our results suggest that bacterial community structure is facility-specific, although there are two core bacterial phyla, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. Feedstock, facility, and fermentation technology may explain the difference in community structure between different facilities. Lactic acid, the most important environmental variable that influences bacterial community structure grouping, could be utilized as an indicator of bacterial contamination. We also identified genes responsible for the multiple antibiotic-resistance phenotype of an Enterobacter cloacae strain isolated from a bioethanol fermentation facility. We performed PCR assays and revealed the presence of canonical genes encoding resistance to penicillin and erythromycin. However, a gene encoding resistance to virginiamycin was not detected.