Low-Temperature Biosurfactants from Polar Microbes
Foreman, Christine M.
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Surfactants, both synthetic and natural, are used in a wide range of industrial applications, including the degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons. Organisms from extreme environments are well-adapted to the harsh conditions and represent an exciting avenue of discovery of naturally occurring biosurfactants, yet microorganisms fromcold environments have been largely overlooked for their biotechnological potential as biosurfactant producers. In this study, four cold-adapted bacterial isolates from Antarctica are investigated for their ability to produce biosurfactants. Here we report on the physical properties and chemical structure of biosurfactants from the genera Janthinobacterium, Psychrobacter, and Serratia. These organisms were able to grow on diesel, motor oil, and crude oil at 4 C. Putative identification showed the presence of sophorolipids and rhamnolipids. Emulsion index test (E24) activity ranged from 36.4–66.7%. Oil displacement tests were comparable to 0.1–1.0% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) solutions. Data presented herein are the first report of organisms of the genus Janthinobacterium to produce biosurfactants and their metabolic capabilities to degrade diverse petroleum hydrocarbons. The organisms’ ability to produce biosurfactants and grow on different hydrocarbons as their sole carbon and energy source at low temperatures (4 C) makes them suitable candidates for the exploration of hydrocarbon bioremediation in low-temperature environments.