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1.  Surfactants tailored by the class Actinobacteria 
Globally the change towards the establishment of a bio-based economy has resulted in an increased need for bio-based applications. This, in turn, has served as a driving force for the discovery and application of novel biosurfactants. The class Actinobacteria represents a vast group of microorganisms with the ability to produce a diverse range of secondary metabolites, including surfactants. Understanding the extensive nature of the biosurfactants produced by actinobacterial strains can assist in finding novel biosurfactants with new potential applications. This review therefore presents a comprehensive overview of the knowledge available on actinobacterial surfactants, the chemical structures that have been completely or partly elucidated, as well as the identity of the biosurfactant-producing strains. Producer strains of not yet elucidated compounds are discussed, as well as the original habitats of all the producer strains, which seems to indicate that biosurfactant production is environmentally driven. Methodology applied in the isolation, purification and structural elucidation of the different types of surface active compounds, as well as surfactant activity tests, are also discussed. Overall, actinobacterial surfactants can be summarized to include the dominantly occurring trehalose-comprising surfactants, other non-trehalose containing glycolipids, lipopeptides and the more rare actinobacterial surfactants. The lack of structural information on a large proportion of actinobacterial surfactants should be considered as a driving force to further explore the abundance and diversity of these compounds. This would allow for a better understanding of actinobacterial surface active compounds and their potential for biotechnological application.
PMCID: PMC4365757  PMID: 25852670
biosurfactant; emulsifier; glycolipid; lipopeptide; trehalose lipid; Rhodococcus; rhamnolipid
2.  Foam-free production of Surfactin via anaerobic fermentation of Bacillus subtilis DSM 10T 
AMB Express  2015;5:21.
Surfactin is one of the most popular biosurfactants due to its numerous potential applications. The usually aerobic production via fermentation of Bacillus subtilis is accompanied by vigorous foaming which leads to complex constructions and great expense. Therefore it is reasonable to search for alternative foam-free production processes. The current study introduces a novel approach to produce Surfactin in a foam-free process applying a strictly anaerobic bioreactor cultivation. The process was performed several times with different glucose concentrations in mineral salt medium. The fermentations were analyzed regarding specific (qSurfactin, vol. qSurfactin) and overall product yields (YP/X, YP/S) as well as substrate utilization (YX/S). Fermentations in which 2.5 g/L glucose were employed proofed to be the most effective, reaching product yields of YP/X = 0.278 g/g. Most interesting, the product yields exceeded classical aerobic fermentations, in which foam fractionation was applied. Additionally, values for specific production rate qSurfactin (0.005 g/(g∙h)) and product yield per consumed substrate (YP/S = 0.033 g/g) surpass results of comparable foam-free processes. The current study introduces an alternative to produce a biosurfactant that overcomes the challenges of severe foaming and need for additional constructions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13568-015-0107-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4385232  PMID: 25852998
Surfactin; Anaerobic fermentation; Bacillus subtilis; Foam-free
3.  Development of a microtiter plate-based assay for the detection of lipase-catalyzed transesterifications in organic solvents 
Biotechnology Letters  2014;37(3):705-710.
A microtiter plate-based assay was developed to evaluate the ability of lipases to perform transesterifications when employed in different organic solvents. A 4-nitrophenol assay was carried out employing seven different lipase formulations and two fatty acid methyl esters with different chain lengths in a total of six organic solvents with logP values approximately between 1 and −1. This assay delivered results within comparatively short times measured by a color reaction and thus facilitates the choice of an enzyme-solvent combination for the synthesis of glycolipids. To validate the findings, glycolipid syntheses were performed using the same lipase formulation in the same solvents. When comparing the results obtained using the microtiter plate-based assay to the results of the glycolipid syntheses using the same lipases and solvents, matching results were obtained.
PMCID: PMC4342509  PMID: 25388450
Assay; Glycolipid synthesis; Lipase; Organic solvents; Transesterification
4.  Characterization of newly isolated oleaginous yeasts - Cryptococcus podzolicus, Trichosporon porosum and Pichia segobiensis 
AMB Express  2014;4:24.
The yeast strains Cryptococcus podzolicus, Trichosporon porosum and Pichia segobiensis were isolated from soil samples and identified as oleaginous yeast strains beneficial for the establishment of microbial production processes for sustainable lipid production suitable for several industrial applications. When cultured in bioreactors with glucose as the sole carbon source C. podzolicus yielded 31.8% lipid per dry biomass at 20°C, while T. porosum yielded 34.1% at 25°C and P. segobiensis 24.6% at 25°C. These amounts correspond to lipid concentrations of 17.97 g/L, 17.02 g/L and 12.7 g/L and volumetric productivities of 0.09 g/Lh, 0.1 g/Lh and 0.07 g/Lh, respectively. During the culture of C. podzolicus 30 g/l gluconic acid was detected as by-product in the culture broth and 12 g/L gluconic acid in T. porosum culture. The production of gluconic acid was eliminated for both strains when glucose was substituted by xylose as the carbon source. Using xylose lipid yields were 11.1 g/L and 13.9 g/L, corresponding to 26.8% and 33.4% lipid per dry biomass and a volumetric productivity of 0.07 g/Lh and 0.09 g/Lh, for C. podzolicus and T. porosum respectively. The fatty acid profile analysis showed that oleic acid was the main component (39.6 to 59.4%) in all three strains and could be applicable for biodiesel production. Palmitic acid (18.4 to 21.1%) and linolenic acid (7.5 to 18.7%) are valuable for cosmetic applications. P. segobiensis had a considerable amount of palmitoleic acid (16% content) and may be suitable for medical applications.
PMCID: PMC4052688  PMID: 24949259
Screening; Oleaginous yeasts; Microbial lipid production; Cryptococcus podzolicus; Trichosporon porosum; Pichia segobiensis
5.  Enzymatical and microbial degradation of cyclic dipeptides (diketopiperazines) 
AMB Express  2013;3:51.
Diketopiperazines (DKPs) are cyclic dipeptides, representing an abundant class of biologically active natural compounds. Despite their widespread occurrence in nature, little is known about their degradation. In this study, the enzymatical and microbial cleavage of DKPs was investigated. Peptidase catalyzed hydrolysis of certain DKPs was formerly reported, but could not be confirmed in this study. While testing additional peptidases and DKPs no degradation was detected, indicating peptidase stability of the peptide bond in cyclic dipeptides. Besides confirmation of the reported degradation of cyclo(l-Asp-l-Phe) by Paenibacillus chibensis (DSM 329) and Streptomyces flavovirens (DSM 40062), cleavage of cyclo(l-Asp-l-Asp) by DSM 329 was detected. Other DKPs were not hydrolyzed by both strains, demonstrating high substrate specificity. The degradation of cyclo(l-Asp-l-Phe) by DSM 40062 was shown to be inducible. Three strains, which are able to hydrolyze hydantoins and dihydropyrimidines, were identified for the degradation of DKPs: Leifsonia sp. K3 (DSM 27212) and Bacillus sp. A16 (DSM 25052) cleaved cyclo(dl-Ala-dl-Ala) and cyclo(l-Gly-l-Phe), and Rhizobium sp. NA04-01 (DSM 24917) degraded cyclo(l-Asp-l-Phe), cyclo(l-Gly-l-Phe) and cyclo(l-Asp-l-Asp). The first enantioselective cleavage of cyclo(dl-Ala-dl-Ala) was detected with the newly isolated strains Paenibacillus sp. 32A (DSM 27214) and Microbacterium sp. 40A (DSM 27211). Cyclo(l-Ala-d-Ala) and cyclo(l-Ala-l-Ala) were completely degraded, whereas the enantiomer cyclo(d-Ala-d-Ala) was not attacked. Altogether, five bacterial strains were newly identified for the cleavage of DKPs. These bacteria may be of value for industrial purposes, such as degradation of undesirable DKPs in food and drugs and production of (enantiopure) dipeptides and amino acids.
PMCID: PMC3852281  PMID: 24001323
Diketopiperazines; Cyclic dipeptides; Peptide bond; Degradation; Hydrolysis; Biotransformation; Cyclic amidases; Peptidases
6.  Novel amidases of two Aminobacter sp. strains: Biotransformation experiments and elucidation of gene sequences 
AMB Express  2012;2:33.
The amidase activities of two Aminobacter sp. strains (DSM24754 and DSM24755) towards the aryl-substituted substrates phenylhydantoin, indolylmethyl hydantoin, D,L-6-phenyl-5,6-dihydrouracil (PheDU) and para-chloro-D,L-6-phenyl-5,6-dihydrouracil were compared. Both strains showed hydantoinase and dihydropyrimidinase activity by hydrolyzing all substrates to the corresponding N-carbamoyl-α- or N-carbamoyl-β-amino acids. However, carbamoylase activity and thus a further degradation of these products to α- and β-amino acids was not detected. Additionally, the genes coding for a dihydropyrimidinase and a carbamoylase of Aminobacter sp. DSM24754 were elucidated. For Aminobacter sp. DSM24755 a dihydropyrimidinase gene flanked by two genes coding for putative ABC transporter proteins was detected. The deduced amino acid sequences of both dihydropyrimidinases are highly similar to the well-studied dihydropyrimidinase of Sinorhizobium meliloti CECT4114. The latter enzyme is reported to accept substituted hydantoins and dihydropyrimidines as substrates. The deduced amino acid sequence of the carbamoylase gene shows a high similarity to the very thermostable enzyme of Pseudomonas sp. KNK003A.
PMCID: PMC3546935  PMID: 22738219
Beta-amino acid; Dihydropyrimidinase; Hydantoinase; Carbamoylase
7.  Influence of pH and carbon to nitrogen ratio on mycotoxin production by Alternaria alternata in submerged cultivation 
AMB Express  2012;2:28.
Production of the Alternaria mycotoxins alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethylether (AME) and tenuazonic acid (TA) by Alternaria alternata DSM 12633 was influenced by pH and carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio of the growth medium both in shaking flasks and bioreactor cultivation. The impact of medium pH on mycotoxin production was studied in the range of pH 3.5 - 8. pH values above 5.5 led to a decreased mycotoxin production or inhibited mycotoxin formation completely whereas an acidic pH in the range of 4.0-4.5 was optimal for mycotoxin production. The influence of the C:N ratio was evaluated over the range of 24 to 96. Glucose was used as carbon source and its concentration was altered while nitrogen concentration was kept constant. Growth kinetics and mycotoxin production parameters were studied depending on different C:N ratios. With increasing initial glucose concentration fungal biomass did increase but the maximum specific growth rate was not influenced. The optimal initial C:N ratio for attaining highest mycotoxin concentrations was 72. A higher C:N ratio did not further enhance mycotoxin production.
PMCID: PMC3441619  PMID: 22608165
Alternaria alternata; Mycotoxins; pH value; C:N ratio; Submerged cultivation
8.  Transaminases for the synthesis of enantiopure beta-amino acids 
AMB Express  2012;2:11.
Optically pure β-amino acids constitute interesting building blocks for peptidomimetics and a great variety of pharmaceutically important compounds. Their efficient synthesis still poses a major challenge. Transaminases (also known as aminotransferases) possess a great potential for the synthesis of optically pure β-amino acids. These pyridoxal 5'-dependent enzymes catalyze the transfer of an amino group from a donor substrate to an acceptor, thus enabling the synthesis of a wide variety of chiral amines and amino acids. Transaminases can be applied either for the kinetic resolution of racemic compounds or the asymmetric synthesis starting from a prochiral substrate. This review gives an overview over microbial transaminases with activity towards β-amino acids and their substrate spectra. It also outlines current strategies for the screening of new biocatalysts. Particular emphasis is placed on activity assays which are applicable to high-throughput screening.
PMCID: PMC3281772  PMID: 22293122
transaminase; beta-amino acid; high-throughput screening; biocatalysis
9.  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
10.  Process development for the elucidation of mycotoxin formation in Alternaria alternata 
AMB Express  2011;1:27.
The black mould Alternaria alternata produces a wide diversity of mycotoxins which are of particular health concern. Since no maximum allowable limits are set for Alternaria toxins in food and feed, prevention of Alternaria infestations and mycotoxin spoilage is the only way to avoid health risks. Thus, the understanding of mycotoxin biosynthesis is essential. For that purpose, a reliable batch process in a 2 L bioreactor was established which enables the study of several parameters influencing the production of the mycotoxins alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethylether (AME) and tenuazonic acid (TA) by A. alternata DSM 12633. Modified Czapek-Dox medium was used with glucose as carbon source and ammonium and nitrate as nitrogen sources. Consumption of carbon and nitrogen sources as well as formation of the three mycotoxins were monitored; the average data of five independent fermentations was plotted and fitted using a logistic equation with four parameters. Maximum mycotoxin concentrations of 3.49 ± 0.12 mg/L AOH, 1.62 ± 0.14 mg/L AME and 38.28 ± 0.1 mg/L TA were obtained.
In this system the effect of different aeration rates (0.53 vvm-0.013 vvm) was tested which exerted a great influence on mycotoxin production. The use of the semi-synthetic Czapek-Dox medium allowed the exchange of carbon and nitrogen sources for acetate and aspartic acid. The use of acetate instead of glucose resulted in the sole production of alternariol whereas the exchange of ammonium and nitrate for aspartate enhanced the production of both AOH and AME while TA production was not affected.
PMCID: PMC3222323  PMID: 21970547
Alternaria alternata; Mycotoxin; Batch process; Aeration rate
11.  Fast quantitative determination of microbial rhamnolipids from cultivation broths by ATR-FTIR Spectroscopy 
Vibrational spectroscopic techniques are becoming increasingly important and popular because they have the potential to provide rapid and convenient solutions to routine analytical problems. Using these techniques, a variety of substances can be characterized, identified and also quantified rapidly.
The rapid ATR-FTIR (Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) in time technique has been applied, which is suitable to quantify the concentrations of microbial rhamnolipids in a typical cultivation process. While the usually applied HPLC analysis requires an extensive and time consuming multi step extraction protocol for sample preparation, the ATR-FTIR-method allows the quantification of the rhamnolipids within 20 minutes. Accuracies between 0.5 g/l – 2.1 g/l for the different analytes were determined by cross validation of the calibration set. Even better accuracies between 0.28 g/l – 0.59 g/l were found for independent test samples of an arbitrarily selected cultivation.
ATR-FTIR was found to be suitable for the rapid analysis of rhamnolipids in a biotechnological process with good reproducibility in sample determination and sufficient accuracy. An improvement in accuracy through continuous expansion and validation of the reference spectra set seems very likely.
PMCID: PMC2572035  PMID: 18840269

Results 1-11 (11)