Low-Input Fermentations of Agave tequilana Leaf Juice Generate High Returns on Ethanol Yields

Kendall R. Corbin, Natalie S. Betts, Nick van Holst, Vladimir Jiranek, Don Chambers, Caitlin S. Byrt, Geoffrey B. Fincher, Rachel A. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


During tequila production, up to 75 % w/w of the Agave plant is discarded when leaves are removed from the stem. The discarded leaves represent an extensive amount of unexploited biomass that was used here for bioethanol production in no-input fermentations, where no acid or enzymatic hydrolysis, supplementation of nutrients or standardization of carbohydrate content occur. Ethanol yield from Agave leaf juice is unaffected by sterilization but reduced if fermentation is reliant solely on endogenous microorganisms. Non-Saccharomyces yeasts, including Kluyveromyces marxianus and Candida akabanensis, proved to be more robust than standard Saccharomyces spp. and yielded up to 88 % of the theoretical maximum ethanol from leaf juice. Combining leaf and stem juice, as from a whole plant, was predicted to maximize yield at up to 19,439 L/ha of ethanol from mature plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1154
Number of pages13
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC). We would like to thank Professor Joseph Holtum of James Cook University for assistance with Agave sample collection and transport of materials. Our thanks are also due to Associate Professor Paul Grbin (University of Adelaide) for providing access to his laboratory facility.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Agave tequilana
  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Non-Saccharomyces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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