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1.  HOY1, a homeo gene required for hyphal formation in Yarrowia lipolytica. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(11):6283-6293.
The dimorphic fungus Yarrowia lipolytica grows to form hyphae either in rich media or in media with GlcNAc as a carbon source. A visual screening, called FIL (filamentation minus), for Y. lipolytica yeast growth mutants has been developed. The FIL screen was used to identify three Y. lipolytica genes that abolish hypha formation in all media assayed. Y. lipolytica HOY1, a gene whose deletion prevents the yeast-hypha transition both in liquid and solid media, was characterized. HOY1 is predicted to encode a 509-amino-acid protein with a homeodomain homologous to that found in the chicken Hox4.8 gene. Analysis of the protein predicts a nuclear location. These observations suggest that Hoy1p may function as a transcriptional regulatory protein. In disrupted strains, reintroduction of HOY1 restored the capacity for hypha formation. Northern blot hybridization revealed the HOY1 transcript to be approximately 1.6 kb. Expression of this gene was detected when Y. lipolytica grew as a budding yeast, but an increase in its expression was observed by 1 h after cells had been induced to form hyphae. The possible functions of HOY1 in hyphal growth and the uses of the FIL screen to identify morphogenetic regulatory genes from heterologous organisms are discussed.
PMCID: PMC232479  PMID: 9343389
2.  Enhanced octadecane dispersion and biodegradation by a Pseudomonas rhamnolipid surfactant (biosurfactant). 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1992;58(10):3276-3282.
A microbial surfactant (biosurfactant) was investigated for its potential to enhance bioavailability and, hence, the biodegradation of octadecane. The rhamnolipid biosurfactant used in this study was extracted from culture supernatants after growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027 in phosphate-limited proteose peptone-glucose-ammonium salts medium. Dispersion of octadecane in aqueous solutions was dramatically enhanced by 300 mg of the rhamnolipid biosurfactant per liter, increasing by a factor of more than 4 orders of magnitude, from 0.009 to > 250 mg/liter. The relative enhancement of octadecane dispersion was much greater at low rhamnolipid concentrations than at high concentrations. Rhamnolipid-enhanced octadecane dispersion was found to be dependent on pH and shaking speed. Biodegradation experiments done with an initial octadecane concentration of 1,500 mg/liter showed that 20% of the octadecane was mineralized in 84 h in the presence of 300 mg of rhamnolipid per liter, compared with only 5% octadecane mineralization when no surfactant was present. These results indicate that rhamnolipids may have potential for facilitating the bioremediation of sites contaminated with hydrocarbons having limited water solubility.
PMCID: PMC183091  PMID: 1444363
3.  Coordination of Swarming Motility, Biosurfactant Synthesis, and Biofilm Matrix Exopolysaccharide Production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(21):6724-6732.
Biofilm formation is a complex process in which many factors are involved. Bacterial swarming motility and exopolysaccharides both contribute to biofilm formation, yet it is unclear how bacteria coordinate swarming motility and exopolysaccharide production. Psl and Pel are two key biofilm matrix exopolysaccharides in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This opportunistic pathogen has three types of motility, swimming, twitching, and swarming. In this study, we found that elevated Psl and/or Pel production reduced the swarming motility of P. aeruginosa but had little effect on swimming and twitching. The reduction was due to decreased rhamnolipid production with no relation to the transcription of rhlAB, two key genes involved in the biosynthesis of rhamnolipids. Rhamnolipid-negative rhlR and rhlAB mutants synthesized more Psl, whereas exopolysaccharide-deficient strains exhibited a hyperswarming phenotype. These results suggest that competition for common sugar precursors catalyzed by AlgC could be a tactic for P. aeruginosa to balance the synthesis of exopolysaccharides and rhamnolipids and to control bacterial motility and biofilm formation inversely because the biosynthesis of rhamnolipids, Psl, and Pel requires AlgC to provide the sugar precursors and an additional algC gene enhances the biosynthesis of Psl and rhamnolipids. In addition, our data indicate that the increase in RhlI/RhlR expression attenuated Psl production. This implied that the quorum-sensing signals could regulate exopolysaccharide biosynthesis indirectly in bacterial communities. In summary, this study represents a mechanism that bacteria utilize to coordinate swarming motility, biosurfactant synthesis, and biofilm matrix exopolysaccharide production, which is critical for biofilm formation and bacterial survival in the environment.
PMCID: PMC4249032  PMID: 25172852
4.  Production of Rhamnolipids by Pseudomonas chlororaphis, a Nonpathogenic Bacterium 
Rhamnolipids, naturally occurring biosurfactants constructed of rhamnose sugar molecules and β-hydroxyalkanoic acids, have a wide range of potential commercial applications. In the course of a survey of 33 different bacterial isolates, we have identified, using a phenotypic assay for rhamnolipid production, a strain of the nonpathogenic bacterial species Pseudomonas chlororaphis that is capable of producing rhamnolipids. Rhamnolipid production by P. chlororaphis was achieved by growth at room temperature in static cultures of a mineral salts medium containing 2% glucose. We obtained yields of roughly 1 g/liter of rhamnolipids, an amount comparable to the production levels reported in Pseudomonas aeruginosa grown with glucose as the carbon source. The rhamnolipids produced by P. chlororaphis appear to be exclusively the mono-rhamnolipid form. The most prevalent molecular species had one monounsaturated hydroxy fatty acid of 12 carbons and one saturated hydroxy fatty acid of 10 carbons. P. chlororaphis, a nonpathogenic saprophyte of the soil, is currently employed as a biocontrol agent against certain types of plant fungal diseases. The pathogenic nature of all bacteria previously known to produce rhamnolipids has been a major obstacle to commercial production of rhamnolipids. The use of P. chlororaphis therefore greatly simplifies this matter by removing the need for containment systems and stringent separation processes in the production of rhamnolipids.
PMCID: PMC1087580  PMID: 15870313
5.  Stimulation of adult neural stem cells with a novel glycolipid biosurfactant 
Acta neurologica Belgica  2013;113(4):10.1007/s13760-013-0232-4.
Glycolipids are amphipatic molecules which are highly expressed on cell membranes in skin and brain where they mediate several key cellular processes. Neural stem cells are defined as undifferentiated, proliferative, multipotential cells with extensive self-renewal and are responsive to brain injury. Di-rhamnolipid: α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-2)α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-3-hydroxydecanoyl-3-hydroxydecanoic acid, also referred to as di-rhamnolipid BAC-3, is a glycolipid isolated from bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the previous studies di-rhamnolipid enhanced dermal tissue healing and regeneration. The present study provides the first assessment of di-rhamnolipid, and glycolipid-biosurfactants in general, on the nervous system. Treatment of neural stem cells isolated from the lateral ventricle of adult mice and cultured in defined media containing growth factors at 0.5 and 1 μg/ml of di-rhamnolipid increased the number of neurospheres (2.7 and 2.8 fold, respectively) compared to controls and this effect remained even after passaging in the absence of di-rhamnolipid. Additionally, neural stem cells treated with di-rhamnolipid at 50 and 100 μg/ml in defined media supplemented with fetal calf serum and without growth factors exhibited increased cell viability indicating an interaction between di-rhamnolipid and serum components in the regulation of neural stem cells and neuroprogenitors. Intracerebroventricular administration of di-rhamnolipid at 300 and 120 ng/day increased the number of neurospheres (1.3 and 1.63 fold, respectively) that could be derived from the anterior lateral ventricles of adult mice. These results indicate that di-rhamnolipid stimulates proliferation of neural stem cells and increases their endogenous pools which may have therapeutic potential in managing neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric disorders and promoting nervous tissue regeneration following injury.
PMCID: PMC3855528  PMID: 23846482
di-rhamnolipid; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; biosurfactant; neural stem cells; nervous tissue regeneration
6.  Fatty Acid Cosubstrates Provide β-Oxidation Precursors for Rhamnolipid Biosynthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as Evidenced by Isotope Tracing and Gene Expression Assays 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(24):8611-8622.
Rhamnolipids have multiple potential applications as “green” surfactants for industry, remediation, and medicine. As a result, they have been intensively investigated to add to our understanding of their biosynthesis and improve yields. Several studies have noted that the addition of a fatty acid cosubstrate increases rhamnolipid yields, but a metabolic explanation has not been offered, partly because biosynthesis studies to date have used sugar or sugar derivatives as the carbon source. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of fatty acid cosubstrates in improving rhamnolipid biosynthesis. A combination of stable isotope tracing and gene expression assays was used to identify lipid precursors and potential lipid metabolic pathways used in rhamnolipid synthesis when fatty acid cosubstrates are present. To this end, we compared the rhamnolipids produced and their yields using either glucose alone or glucose and octadecanoic acid-d35 as cosubstrates. Using a combination of sugar and fatty acids, the rhamnolipid yield was significantly higher (i.e., doubled) than when glucose was used alone. Two patterns of deuterium incorporation (either 1 or 15 deuterium atoms) in a single Rha-C10 lipid chain were observed for octadecanoic acid-d35 treatment, indicating that in the presence of a fatty acid cosubstrate, both de novo fatty acid synthesis and β-oxidation are used to provide lipid precursors for rhamnolipids. Gene expression assays showed a 200- to 600-fold increase in the expression of rhlA and rhlB rhamnolipid biosynthesis genes and a more modest increase of 3- to 4-fold of the fadA β-oxidation pathway gene when octadecanoic acid was present. Taken together, these results suggest that the simultaneous use of de novo fatty acid synthesis and β-oxidation pathways allows for higher production of lipid precursors, resulting in increased rhamnolipid yields.
PMCID: PMC3502905  PMID: 23042167
7.  Flagellin Delivery by Pseudomonas aeruginosa Rhamnolipids Induces the Antimicrobial Protein Psoriasin in Human Skin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16433.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause severe infections in patients suffering from disruption or disorder of the skin barrier as in burns, chronic wounds, and after surgery. On healthy skin P. aeruginosa causes rarely infections. To gain insight into the interaction of the ubiquitous bacterium P. aeruginosa and healthy human skin, the induction of the antimicrobial protein psoriasin by P. aeruginosa grown on an ex vivo skin model was analyzed. We show that presence of the P. aeruginosa derived biosurfactant rhamnolipid was indispensable for flagellin-induced psoriasin expression in human skin, contrary to in vitro conditions. The importance of the bacterial virulence factor flagellin as the major inducing factor of psoriasin expression in skin was demonstrated by use of a flagellin-deficient mutant. Rhamnolipid mediated shuttle across the outer skin barrier was not restricted to flagellin since rhamnolipids enable psoriasin expression by the cytokines IL-17 and IL-22 after topical application on human skin. Rhamnolipid production was detected for several clinical strains and the formation of vesicles was observed under skin physiological conditions. In conclusion we demonstrate herein that rhamnolipids enable the induction of the antimicrobial protein psoriasin by flagellin in human skin without direct contact of bacteria and responding cells. Hereby, human skin might control the microflora to prevent colonization of unwanted microbes in the earliest steps before potential pathogens can develop strategies to subvert the immune response.
PMCID: PMC3026827  PMID: 21283546
8.  Growth independent rhamnolipid production from glucose using the non-pathogenic Pseudomonas putida KT2440 
Rhamnolipids are potent biosurfactants with high potential for industrial applications. However, rhamnolipids are currently produced with the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa during growth on hydrophobic substrates such as plant oils. The heterologous production of rhamnolipids entails two essential advantages: Disconnecting the rhamnolipid biosynthesis from the complex quorum sensing regulation and the opportunity of avoiding pathogenic production strains, in particular P. aeruginosa. In addition, separation of rhamnolipids from fatty acids is difficult and hence costly.
Here, the metabolic engineering of a rhamnolipid producing Pseudomonas putida KT2440, a strain certified as safety strain using glucose as carbon source to avoid cumbersome product purification, is reported. Notably, P. putida KT2440 features almost no changes in growth rate and lag-phase in the presence of high concentrations of rhamnolipids (> 90 g/L) in contrast to the industrially important bacteria Bacillus subtilis, Corynebacterium glutamicum, and Escherichia coli. P. putida KT2440 expressing the rhlAB-genes from P. aeruginosa PAO1 produces mono-rhamnolipids of P. aeruginosa PAO1 type (mainly C10:C10). The metabolic network was optimized in silico for rhamnolipid synthesis from glucose. In addition, a first genetic optimization, the removal of polyhydroxyalkanoate formation as competing pathway, was implemented. The final strain had production rates in the range of P. aeruginosa PAO1 at yields of about 0.15 g/gglucose corresponding to 32% of the theoretical optimum. What's more, rhamnolipid production was independent from biomass formation, a trait that can be exploited for high rhamnolipid production without high biomass formation.
A functional alternative to the pathogenic rhamnolipid producer P. aeruginosa was constructed and characterized. P. putida KT24C1 pVLT31_rhlAB featured the highest yield and titer reported from heterologous rhamnolipid producers with glucose as carbon source. Notably, rhamnolipid production was uncoupled from biomass formation, which allows optimal distribution of resources towards rhamnolipid synthesis. The results are discussed in the context of rational strain engineering by using the concepts of synthetic biology like chassis cells and orthogonality, thereby avoiding the complex regulatory programs of rhamnolipid production existing in the natural producer P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC3258213  PMID: 21999513
flux analysis; quantitative physiology; metabolic network; biodetergent; non-pathogenic Pseudomonas; biosurfactants; rhamnolipids; off-gas analysis; 13C labeling; BlueSens
9.  Timing and Localization of Rhamnolipid Synthesis Gene Expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(1):37-44.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms can develop mushroom-like structures with stalks and caps consisting of discrete subpopulations of cells. Self-produced rhamnolipid surfactants have been shown to be important in development of the mushroom-like structures. The quorum-sensing-controlled rhlAB operon is required for rhamnolipid synthesis. We have introduced an rhlA-gfp fusion into a neutral site in the P. aeruginosa genome to study rhlAB promoter activity in rhamnolipid-producing biofilms. Expression of the rhlA-gfp fusion in biofilms requires the quorum-sensing signal butanoyl-homoserine lactone, but other factors are also required for expression. Early in biofilm development rhlA-gfp expression is low, even in the presence of added butanoyl-homoserine lactone. Expression of the fusion becomes apparent after microcolonies with a depth of >20 μm have formed and, as shown by differential labeling with rfp or fluorescent dyes, rhlA-gfp is preferentially expressed in the stalks rather than the caps of mature mushrooms. The rhlA-gfp expression pattern is not greatly influenced by addition of butanoyl-homoserine lactone to the biofilm growth medium. We propose that rhamnolipid synthesis occurs in biofilms after stalks have formed but prior to capping in the mushroom-like structures. The differential expression of rhlAB may play a role in the development of normal biofilm architecture.
PMCID: PMC538809  PMID: 15601686
10.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa Exopolysaccharide Psl Promotes Resistance to the Biofilm Inhibitor Polysorbate 80 
Polysorbate 80 (PS80) is a nonionic surfactant and detergent that inhibits biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa at concentrations as low as 0.001% and is well tolerated in human tissues. However, certain clinical and laboratory strains (PAO1) of P. aeruginosa are able to form biofilms in the presence of PS80. To better understand this resistance, we performed transposon mutagenesis with a PS80-resistant clinical isolate, PA738. This revealed that mutation of algC rendered PA738 sensitive to PS80 biofilm inhibition. AlgC contributes to the biosynthesis of the exopolysaccharides Psl and alginate, as well as lipopolysaccharide and rhamnolipid. Analysis of mutations downstream of AlgC in these biosynthetic pathways established that disruption of the psl operon was sufficient to render the PA738 and PAO1 strains sensitive to PS80-mediated biofilm inhibition. Increased levels of Psl production in the presence of arabinose in a strain with an arabinose-inducible psl promoter were correlated with increased biofilm formation in PS80. In P. aeruginosa strains MJK8 and ZK2870, known to produce both Pel and Psl, disruption of genes in the psl but not the pel operon conferred susceptibility to PS80-mediated biofilm inhibition. The laboratory strain PA14 does not produce Psl and does not form biofilms in PS80. However, when PA14 was transformed with a cosmid containing the psl operon, it formed biofilms in the presence of PS80. Taken together, these data suggest that production of the exopolysaccharide Psl by P. aeruginosa promotes resistance to the biofilm inhibitor PS80.
PMCID: PMC3421584  PMID: 22585230
11.  Eugenol: A Phyto-Compound Effective against Methicillin-Resistant and Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus Clinical Strain Biofilms 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119564.
Inhibition and eradication of Staphylococcus aureus biofilms with conventional antibiotic is difficult, and the treatment is further complicated by the rise of antibiotic resistance among staphylococci. Consequently, there is a need for novel antimicrobials that can treat biofilm-related infections and decrease antibiotics burden. Natural compounds such as eugenol with anti-microbial properties are attractive agents that could reduce the use of conventional antibiotics. In this study we evaluated the effect of eugenol on MRSA and MSSA biofilms in vitro and bacterial colonization in vivo.
Methods and Results
Effect of eugenol on in vitro biofilm and in vivo colonization were studied using microtiter plate assay and otitis media-rat model respectively. The architecture of in vitro biofilms and in vivo colonization of bacteria was viewed with SEM. Real-time RT-PCR was used to study gene expression. Check board method was used to study the synergistic effects of eugenol and carvacrol on established biofilms. Eugenol significantly inhibited biofilms growth of MRSA and MSSA in vitro in a concentration-dependent manner. Eugenol at MIC or 2×MIC effectively eradicated the pre-established biofilms of MRSA and MSSA clinical strains. In vivo, sub-MIC of eugenol significantly decreased 88% S. aureus colonization in rat middle ear. Eugenol was observed to damage the cell-membrane and cause a leakage of the cell contents. At sub-inhibitory concentration, it decreases the expression of biofilm-and enterotoxin-related genes. Eugenol showed a synergistic effect with carvacrol on the eradication of pre-established biofilms.
Conclusion/Major Finding
This study demonstrated that eugenol exhibits notable activity against MRSA and MSSA clinical strains biofilms. Eugenol inhibited biofilm formation, disrupted the cell-to-cell connections, detached the existing biofilms, and killed the bacteria in biofilms of both MRSA and MSSA with equal effectiveness. Therefore, eugenol may be used to control or eradicate S. aureus biofilm-related infections.
PMCID: PMC4364371  PMID: 25781975
12.  Increase in Rhamnolipid Synthesis under Iron-Limiting Conditions Influences Surface Motility and Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(12):2973-2980.
Iron is an essential element for life but also serves as an environmental signal for biofilm development in the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Under iron-limiting conditions, P. aeruginosa displays enhanced twitching motility and forms flat unstructured biofilms. In this study, we present evidence suggesting that iron-regulated production of the biosurfactant rhamnolipid is important to facilitate the formation of flat unstructured biofilms. We show that under iron limitation the timing of rhamnolipid expression is shifted to the initial stages of biofilm formation (versus later in biofilm development under iron-replete conditions) and results in increased bacterial surface motility. In support of this observation, an rhlAB mutant defective in biosurfactant production showed less surface motility under iron-restricted conditions and developed structured biofilms similar to those developed by the wild type under iron-replete conditions. These results highlight the importance of biosurfactant production in determining the mature structure of P. aeruginosa biofilms under iron-limiting conditions.
PMCID: PMC2901684  PMID: 20154129
13.  Yarrowia lipolytica Mutants Devoid of Pyruvate Carboxylase Activity Show an Unusual Growth Phenotype†  
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(2):356-364.
We have cloned and characterized the gene PYC1, encoding the unique pyruvate carboxylase in the dimorphic yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. The protein putatively encoded by the cDNA has a length of 1,192 amino acids and shows around 70% identity with pyruvate carboxylases from other organisms. The corresponding genomic DNA possesses an intron of 269 bp located 133 bp downstream of the starting ATG. In the branch motif of the intron, the sequence CCCTAAC, not previously found at this place in spliceosomal introns of Y. lipolytica, was uncovered. Disruption of the PYC1 gene from Y. lipolytica did not abolish growth in glucose-ammonium medium, as is the case in other eukaryotic microorganisms. This unusual growth phenotype was due to an incomplete glucose repression of the function of the glyoxylate cycle, as shown by the lack of growth in that medium of double pyc1 icl1 mutants lacking both pyruvate carboxylase and isocitrate lyase activity. These mutants grew when glutamate, aspartate, or Casamino Acids were added to the glucose-ammonium medium. The cDNA from the Y. lipolytica PYC1 gene complemented the growth defect of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae pyc1 pyc2 mutant, but introduction of either the S. cerevisiae PYC1 or PYC2 gene into Y. lipolytica did not result in detectable pyruvate carboxylase activity or in growth on glucose-ammonium of a Y. lipolytica pyc1 icl1 double mutant.
PMCID: PMC549329  PMID: 15701798
14.  Analysis of biosurfactants from industrially viable Pseudomonas strain isolated from crude oil suggests how rhamnolipids congeners affect emulsification property and antimicrobial activity 
Rhamnolipid biosurfactants produced mainly by Pseudomonas sp. had been reported to possess a wide range of potential industrial application. These biosurfactants are produced as monorhamnolipid (MRL) and di-rhamnolipid (DRL) congeners. The present study deals with rhamnolipid biosurfactants produced by three bacterial isolates from crude oil. Biosurfactants produced by one of the strains (named as IMP67) was found to be very efficacious based on its critical micelle concentration value and hydrocarbon emulsification property. Strikingly, antimicrobial, and anti-biofilm potential of this biosurfactant were higher than biosurfactants produced by other two strains. Thin layer chromatography analysis and rhamnose quantification showed that the rhamnolipids of IMP67 had more MRL congeners than biosurfactants of the other two strains. Emulsification and antimicrobial actions were affected by manual change of MRL and DRL congener proportions. Increase of MRL proportion enhanced emulsification index and antimicrobial property to Gram negative bacteria. This result indicated that the ratio of MRL and DRL affected the emulsification potentials of rhamnolipids, and suggested that high emulsification potentials might enhance rhamnolipids to penetrate the cell wall of Gram negative bacteria. In line with this finding, rhamnolipids of IMP67 also reduced the MIC of some antibiotics against bacteria, suggesting their synergistic role with the antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC4273660  PMID: 25566212
biosurfactant; rhamnolipid congeners; emulsification; thin layer chromatography; MRL-DRL proportion; antimicrobial action; biofilm disruption
15.  Rhamnolipids: diversity of structures, microbial origins and roles 
Rhamnolipids are glycolipidic biosurfactants produced by various bacterial species. They were initially found as exoproducts of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and described as a mixture of four congeners: α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-β-hydroxydecanoyl-β-hydroxydecanoate (Rha-Rha-C10-C10), α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-β-hydroxydecanoate (Rha-Rha-C10), as well as their mono-rhamnolipid congeners Rha-C10-C10 and Rha-C10. The development of more sensitive analytical techniques has lead to the further discovery of a wide diversity of rhamnolipid congeners and homologues (about 60) that are produced at different concentrations by various Pseudomonas species and by bacteria belonging to other families, classes, or even phyla. For example, various Burkholderia species have been shown to produce rhamnolipids that have longer alkyl chains than those produced by P. aeruginosa. In P. aeruginosa, three genes, carried on two distinct operons, code for the enzymes responsible for the final steps of rhamnolipid synthesis: one operon carries the rhlAB genes and the other rhlC. Genes highly similar to rhlA, rhlB, and rhlC have also been found in various Burkholderia species but grouped within one putative operon, and they have been shown to be required for rhamnolipid production as well. The exact physiological function of these secondary metabolites is still unclear. Most identified activities are derived from the surface activity, wetting ability, detergency, and other amphipathic-related properties of these molecules. Indeed, rhamnolipids promote the uptake and biodegradation of poorly soluble substrates, act as immune modulators and virulence factors, have antimicrobial activities, and are involved in surface motility and in bacterial biofilm development.
PMCID: PMC2854365  PMID: 20336292
Biosurfactants; Pseudomonas; Burkholderia
16.  Biotreatment of oily wastewater by rhamnolipids in aerated active sludge system*  
Oily wastewater generated by various industries creates a major ecological problem throughout the world. The traditional methods for the oily wastewater treatment are inefficient and costly. Surfactants can promote the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons by dispersing oil into aqueous environment. In the present study, we applied rhamnolipid-containing cell-free culture broth to enhance the biodegradation of crude oil and lubricating oil in a conventional aerobically-activated sludge system. At 20 °C, rhamnolipids (11.2 mg/L) increased the removal efficiency of crude oil from 17.7% (in the absence of rhamnolipids) to 63%. At 25 °C, the removal efficiency of crude oil was over 80% with the presence of rhamnolipids compared with 22.3% in the absence of rhamnolipids. Similarly, rhamnolipid treatment (22.5 mg/L) for 24 h at 20 °C significantly increased the removal rate of lubricating oil to 92% compared with 24% in the absence of rhamnolipids. The enhanced removal of hydrocarbons was mainly attributed to the improved solubility and the reduced interfacial tension by rhamnolipids. We conclude that a direct application of the crude rhamnolipid solution from cell culture is effective and economic in removing oily contaminants from wastewater.
PMCID: PMC2772891  PMID: 19882761
Oily wastewater; Rhamnolipid; Aerated active sludge system; Biodegradation
17.  The Influence of Rhamnolipids on Aliphatic Fractions of Diesel Oil Biodegradation by Microorganism Combinations 
Indian Journal of Microbiology  2012;53(1):84-91.
Twelve different bacteria–yeast combinations were tested for determination of their ability to biodegrade diesel oil. The cell surface properties of the bacterial and yeast strains were correlated with the type of carbon source used in the experiments. The highest biodegradation of diesel oil after 7 days was obtained for the following combinations: Aeromonas hydrophila MR4–Yarrowia lipolytica EH 56 (87 %) and Xantomonas maltophila MRP7–Candida maltosa EH15 (90 %). Degradation performances of 10 of 12 combinations were enhanced by the presence of rhamnolipids. The highest increases were observed for A. hydrophila MR4–C. maltosa EH15 (from 34 to 67 %), A. hydrophila MR4–C. maltosa EH60 (from 47 to 76 %) and for Pseudomonas stutzeri MR7–C. maltosa EH60 (from 29 to 79 %). The addition of rhamnolipids to the system reduces the removal time of diesel oil from the contaminated water and changes the microbial adhesion to hydrocarbons. Modification of the cell surface of the tested strain during biodegradation is a very important factor determining the removal of hydrophobic compounds.
PMCID: PMC3587509  PMID: 24426083
Biodegradation; Combinations; Hydrophobicity; Diesel oil; Yeast
18.  The Autotransporter Esterase EstA of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Is Required for Rhamnolipid Production, Cell Motility, and Biofilm Formation▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(18):6695-6703.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 produces the biodetergent rhamnolipid and secretes it into the extracellular environment. The role of rhamnolipids in the life cycle and pathogenicity of P. aeruginosa has not been completely understood, but they are known to affect outer membrane composition, cell motility, and biofilm formation. This report is focused on the influence of the outer membrane-bound esterase EstA of P. aeruginosa PAO1 on rhamnolipid production. EstA is an autotransporter protein which exposes its catalytically active esterase domain on the cell surface. Here we report that the overexpression of EstA in the wild-type background of P. aeruginosa PAO1 results in an increased production of rhamnolipids whereas an estA deletion mutant produced only marginal amounts of rhamnolipids. Also the known rhamnolipid-dependent cellular motility and biofilm formation were affected. Although only a dependence of swarming motility on rhamnolipids has been known so far, the other kinds of motility displayed by P. aeruginosa PAO1, swimming and twitching, were also affected by an estA mutation. In order to demonstrate that EstA enzyme activity is responsible for these effects, inactive variant EstA* was constructed by replacement of the active serine by alanine. None of the mutant phenotypes could be complemented by expression of EstA*, demonstrating that the phenotypes affected by the estA mutation depend on the enzymatically active protein.
PMCID: PMC2045186  PMID: 17631636
19.  Effect of a Pseudomonas rhamnolipid biosurfactant on cell hydrophobicity and biodegradation of octadecane. 
In this study, the effect of a purified rhamnolipid biosurfactant on the hydrophobicity of octadecane-degrading cells was investigated to determine whether differences in rates of octadecane biodegradation resulting from the addition of rhamnolipid to four strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa could be related to measured differences in hydrophobicity. Cell hydrophobicity was determined by a modified bacterial adherence to hydrocarbon (BATH) assay. Bacterial adherence to hydrocarbon quantitates the preference of cell surfaces for the aqueous phase or the aqueous-hexadecane interface in a two-phase system of water and hexadecane. On the basis of octadecane biodegradation in the absence of rhamnolipid, the four bacterial strains were divided into two groups: the fast degraders (ATCC 15442 and ATCC 27853), which had high cell hydrophobicities (74 and 55% adherence to hexadecane, respectively), and the slow degraders (ATCC 9027 and NRRL 3198), which had low cell hydrophobicities (27 and 40%, respectively). Although in all cases rhamnolipid increased the aqueous dispersion of octadecane at least 10(4)-fold, at low rhamnolipid concentrations (0.6 mM), biodegradation by all four strains was initially inhibited for at least 100 h relative to controls. At high rhamnolipid concentrations (6 mM), biodegradation by the fast degraders was slightly inhibited relative to controls, but the biodegradation by the slow degraders was enhanced relative to controls. Measurement of cell hydrophobicity showed that rhamnolipids increased the cell hydrophobicity of the slow degraders but had no effect on the cell hydrophobicity of the fast degraders. The rate at which the cells became hydrophobic was found to depend on the rhamnolipid concentration and was directly related to the rate of octadecane biodegradation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC201607  PMID: 8031099
20.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa biosurfactant production in continuous culture with glucose as carbon source. 
Rsan-ver, a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated at this department, was used for the development of a continuous process for biosurfactant production. The active compounds were identified as rhamnolipids. A final medium for production was designed in continuous culture by means of medium shifts, since the formation of surface-active compounds was decisively influenced by the composition and concentration of the medium components. In the presence of yeast extract, biosurfactant production was poor. For the nitrogen-source nitrate, which was superior to ammonium, an optimum carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of ca. 18 existed. The iron concentration needed to be minimized to 27.5 micrograms of FeSO4 X 7H2O per g of glucose. A carbon-to-phosphate ratio below 16 yielded the maximum production of rhamnolipids. The final productivity dilution rate diagram indicated that biosurfactant production was correlated to low growth rates (dilution rate below 0.15 h-1). With a medium containing 18.2 g of glucose liter-1, a biosurfactant concentration (expressed as rhamnolipids) of up to 1.5 g liter-1 was obtained in the cell-free culture liquid.
PMCID: PMC241507  PMID: 6435520
21.  Rhamnolipid-Induced Removal of Lipopolysaccharide from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Effect on Cell Surface Properties and Interaction with Hydrophobic Substrates 
Little is known about the interaction of biosurfactants with bacterial cells. Recent work in the area of biodegradation suggests that there are two mechanisms by which biosurfactants enhance the biodegradation of slightly soluble organic compounds. First, biosurfactants can solubilize hydrophobic compounds within micelle structures, effectively increasing the apparent aqueous solubility of the organic compound and its availability for uptake by a cell. Second, biosurfactants can cause the cell surface to become more hydrophobic, thereby increasing the association of the cell with the slightly soluble substrate. Since the second mechanism requires very low levels of added biosurfactant, it is the more intriguing of the two mechanisms from the perspective of enhancing the biodegradation process. This is because, in practical terms, addition of low levels of biosurfactants will be more cost-effective for bioremediation. To successfully optimize the use of biosurfactants in the bioremediation process, their effect on cell surfaces must be understood. We report here that rhamnolipid biosurfactant causes the cell surface of Pseudomonas spp. to become hydrophobic through release of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In this study, two Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains were grown on glucose and hexadecane to investigate the chemical and structural changes that occur in the presence of a rhamnolipid biosurfactant. Results showed that rhamnolipids caused an overall loss in cellular fatty acid content. Loss of fatty acids was due to release of LPS from the outer membrane, as demonstrated by 2-keto-3-deoxyoctonic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis and further confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. The amount of LPS loss was found to be dependent on rhamnolipid concentration, but significant loss occurred even at concentrations less than the critical micelle concentration. We conclude that rhamnolipid-induced LPS release is the probable mechanism of enhanced cell surface hydrophobicity.
PMCID: PMC92143  PMID: 10919779
22.  Effects of azithromycin on Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from catheter-associated urinary tract infection 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common pathogenic bacterium in urinary tract infections (UTIs), particularly catheter-associated UTIs. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of azithromycin (AZM) on P. aeruginosa isolated from UTIs. Isolates were identified by biochemical assays and the Vitek system. Antimicrobial susceptibility was determined using the disk diffusion assay. Biofilm formation and adhesion were assayed using a crystal violet staining method. The swimming motility was assayed on agar plates. The elastase activity and rhamnolipid production were determined by the elastin-Congo red method and orcinol reaction, respectively. A total of 32 bacterial isolates were collected from 159 urinary catheters and eight of them were P. aeruginosa isolates. The results showed that the P. aeruginosa isolates had stronger biofilm formation capability and the biofilms were thicker than those of P. aeruginosa PAO1. AZM inhibited biofilm formation and adhesion on urinary catheters, and also decreased swimming motility and the production of virulence factors. The results of this study indicated that AZM is potentially a good choice for use in the treatment of UTIs.
PMCID: PMC4280936  PMID: 25574236
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; azithromycin; urinary tract infection; biofilm; swimming; virulence factor
23.  Rhamnolipid Surfactant Production Affects Biofilm Architecture in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1† 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(3):1027-1036.
In response to certain environmental signals, bacteria will differentiate from an independent free-living mode of growth and take up an interdependent surface-attached existence. These surface-attached microbial communities are known as biofilms. In flowing systems where nutrients are available, biofilms can develop into elaborate three-dimensional structures. The development of biofilm architecture, particularly the spatial arrangement of colonies within the matrix and the open areas surrounding the colonies, is thought to be fundamental to the function of these complex communities. Here we report a new role for rhamnolipid surfactants produced by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the maintenance of biofilm architecture. Biofilms produced by mutants deficient in rhamnolipid synthesis do not maintain the noncolonized channels surrounding macrocolonies. We provide evidence that surfactants may be able to maintain open channels by affecting cell-cell interactions and the attachment of bacterial cells to surfaces. The induced synthesis of rhamnolipids during the later stages of biofilm development (when cell density is high) implies an active mechanism whereby the bacteria exploit intercellular interaction and communication to actively maintain these channels. We propose that the maintenance of biofilm architecture represents a previously unrecognized step in the development of these microbial communities.
PMCID: PMC142794  PMID: 12533479
24.  A novel two-component system BqsS-BqsR modulates quorum sensing-dependent biofilm decay in Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa can grow either as planktonic- or biofilm-form in response to environmental changes. Recent studies show that switching from biofilm to planktonic lifestyle requires rhamnolipids. Here we report the identification of a novel twocomponent system BqsS-BqsR that regulates biofilm decay in P. aeruginosa. BqsS is a multidomain sensor kinase and BqsR is an OmpR-like response regulator. Deletion of either bqsS or bqsR in P. aeruginosa mPAO1 resulted in a significant increase in biofilm formation. Time course analysis showed that the bqsS-bqsR mutants were defective in biofilm dispersal and in rhamnolipid production. Mutation of the BqsS-BqsR two-component system did not affect the biosynthesis of long chain quorum sensing (QS) signal N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl-homoserine lactone (3OC12HSL) but resulted in reduced production of the short chain QS signal N-butyryl-L-homoserine lactone (C4HSL) and the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS). Exogenous addition of C4HSL, PQS or rhamnolipids to the bqsS mutant reduced the biofilm formation to the wild-type level. Evidence suggests that the BqsS-BqsR two-component system might promote conversion of anthranilate to PQS. Taken together, these results establish BqsS-BqsR as a novel two-component system that regulates biofilm decay in P. aeruginosa by modulating biosynthesis of QS signals and rhamnolipids.
PMCID: PMC2633808  PMID: 19513205
biofilms; two-component system; quorum sensing; PQS; rhamnolipids
25.  Assessing the Role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Surface-Active Gene Expression in Hexadecane Biodegradation in Sand 
Low pollutant substrate bioavailability limits hydrocarbon biodegradation in soils. Bacterially produced surface-active compounds, such as rhamnolipid biosurfactant and the PA bioemulsifying protein produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can improve bioavailability and biodegradation in liquid culture, but their production and roles in soils are unknown. In this study, we asked if the genes for surface-active compounds are expressed in unsaturated porous media contaminated with hexadecane. Furthermore, if expression does occur, is biodegradation enhanced? To detect expression of genes for surface-active compounds, we fused the gfp reporter gene either to the promoter region of pra, which encodes for the emulsifying PA protein, or to the promoter of the transcriptional activator rhlR. We assessed green fluorescent protein (GFP) production conferred by these gene fusions in P. aeruginosa PG201. GFP was produced in sand culture, indicating that the rhlR and pra genes are both transcribed in unsaturated porous media. Confocal laser scanning microscopy of liquid drops revealed that gfp expression was localized at the hexadecane-water interface. Wild-type PG201 and its mutants that are deficient in either PA protein, rhamnolipid synthesis, or both were studied to determine if the genetic potential to make surface-active compounds confers an advantage to P. aeruginosa biodegrading hexadecane in sand. Hexadecane depletion rates and carbon utilization efficiency in sand culture were the same for wild-type and mutant strains, i.e., whether PG201 was proficient or deficient in surfactant or emulsifier production. Environmental scanning electron microscopy revealed that colonization of sand grains was sparse, with cells in small monolayer clusters instead of multilayered biofilms. Our findings suggest that P. aeruginosa likely produces surface-active compounds in sand culture. However, the ability to produce surface-active compounds did not enhance biodegradation in sand culture because well-distributed cells and well-distributed hexadecane favored direct contact to hexadecane for most cells. In contrast, surface-active compounds enable bacteria in liquid culture to adhere to the hexadecane-water interface when they otherwise would not, and thus production of surface-active compounds is an advantage for hexadecane biodegradation in well-dispersed liquid systems.
PMCID: PMC127520  PMID: 11976128

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