Bacterial Milking: A Novel Bioprocess for Production of Compatible Solutes

Bacterial Milking: A Novel Bioprocess for Production of Compatible Solutes

Bacterial Milking: A Novel Bioprocess for Production of Compatible Solutes

Abstract

A novel biotechnological process called “bacterial milking” has been established for the production of compatible solutes using the Gram-negative bacterium Halomonas elongata. Following a high-cell-density fermentation which provided biomass up to 48 g cell dry weight per liter, we applied alternating osmotic shocks in combination with crossflow filtration techniques to harvest the compatible solutes ectoine and hydroxyectoine. H. elongata, like other halophilic or halotolerant microorganisms, produces compatible solutes in response to the salinity of the medium. When transferred to a low salinity medium (osmotic downshock), H. elongata cells rapidly released their solutes to achieve osmotic equilibrium. Subsequent reincubation in a medium of higher salt concentration resulted in resynthesis of these compatible solutes and-after a defined regeneration time-the procedure could be repeated. By repeatedly performing this “bacterial milking” process (at least nine times) we were able to produce large amounts of ectoines with a biomass productivity of 155 mg of ectoine per cycle per gram cell dry weight. Further purification of the products was achieved by a simple two-step procedure based on cation exchange chromatography and crystallization. The principles described in this article may also be useful for the production of other low-molecular-weight compounds.

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