Molecular Genetics of Biosurfactant Synthesis in Microorganisms
Surekha K. Satpute, Smita S. Bhuyan, Karishma R. Pardesi, Shilpa S. Mujumdar, Prashant K. Dhakephalkar, Ashvini M. Shete and Balu A. Chopade
Biosurfactant (BS)/bioemulsifier (BE) produced by varied microorganisms exemplify immense structural/functional diversity and consequently signify the involvement of particular molecular machinery in their biosynthesis. The present chapter aims to compile information on molecular genetics of BS/BE production in microorganisms. Polymer synthesis in Acinetobacter species is controlled by an intricate operon system and its further excretion being controlled by enzymes. Quorum sensing system (QSS) plays a fundamental role in rhamnolipid and surfactin synthesis. Depending upon the cell density, signal molecules (autoinducers) of regulatory pathways accomplish the biosynthesis of BS. The regulation of serrawettin production by Serratia is believed to be through non ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) and N‑acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) encoded by QSS located on mobile transposon. This regulation is under positive as well as negative control of QSS operon products. In case of yeast and fungi, glycolipid precursor production is catalyzed by genes that encode enzyme cytochrome P450 monooxygenase. BS/BE production is dictated by genes present on the chromosomes. This chapter also gives a glimpse of recent biotechnological developments which helped to realize molecular genetics of BS/BE production in microorganisms. Hyper‑producing recombinants as well as mutant strains have been constructed successfully to improve the yield and quality of BS/BE. Thus promising biotechnological advances have expanded the applicability of BS/BE in therapeutics, cosmetics, agriculture, food, beverages and bioremediation etc. In brief, our knowledge on genetics of BS/BE production in prokaryotes is extensive as compared to yeast and fungi. Meticulous and concerted study will lead to an understanding of the molecular phenomena in unexplored microbes. In addition to this, recent promising advances will facilitate in broadening applications of BS/BE to diverse fields. Over the decades, valuable information on molecular genetics of BS/BE has been generated and this strong foundation would facilitate application oriented output of the surfactant industry and broaden its use in diverse fields. To accomplish our objectives, interaction among experts from diverse fields likes microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics is indispensable.