Whole cell biocatalysts: essential workers from Nature to the industry
- Carla C. C. R. de Carvalho
- Microbial biotechnology
Marine bacteria have evolved to survive in the marine environment by using unique physiological, biochemical and metabolic features and the ability to produce enzymes and compounds which may have commercial value. The Azores archipelago presents several ecosystems with strong volcanic activity where bacteria thrive under e.g. high temperatures. In this study, samples collected in the island of São Miguel were screened for biocatalysts possessing e.g. lipase, esterase, amylase, and inulinase activities. After isolation of several hundred bacterial strains, high throughput screening methods allowed the fast identification of biocatalysts. The first cultivation tests were performed on 24-wells microtiter plates with online oxygen monitoring and bacteria able to grow within 24 h were selected for further process development. Bacteria able to produce the desired enzymes were selected for the first round of tests. Four Bacillus strains presented high inulinase activity. The next step in process development was the determination of key parameters for enzyme activity such as temperature, pH, salinity and substrate concentration. The highest inulinase activity, 2.2 gsugars /gprotein h, was attained when the supernatant of a culture of a Bacillus subtilis strain was used in a magnetically stirred bioreactor. This study demonstrates how bacterial strains from marine environments may be used successfully in biotechnological processes.