Enhanced polyhydroxyalkanoates accumulation by Halomonas spp. in artifi cial biofi lms of alginate beads
AbstractMicrobial mats are complex but stable, multi-layered and multi-functional biofilms, which are the most frequent bacterial formations in nature. The functional strategies and physiological versatility of the bacterial populations growing in microbial mats allow bacteria to resist changing conditions within their environment. One of these strategies is the accumulation of carbon- and energy-rich polymers that permit the recovery of metabolic activities when favorable conditions are restored. In the present study, we systematically screened microbial mats for bacteria able to accumulate large amounts of the ester carbon polymers polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). Several of these strains were isolated from Ebro Delta microbial mats and their ability to accumulate PHA up to 40-60 % of their dry weight was confirmed. According to two identification approaches (16S rRNA and ropD genes), these strains were identified as Halomonas alkaliphila (MAT-7, -13, -16), H. neptunia (MAT-17), and H. venusta (MAT-28). To determine the mode of growth yielding maximum PHA accumulation, these three different species were cultured in an artificial biofilm in which the cells were immobilized on alginate beads. PHA accumulation by cells that had detached from the biofilm was compared with that of their planktonic counterparts. Experiments in different culture media showed that PHA accumulation, measured as the relative fluorescence intensity after 48 h of incubation at 30 ºC, was higher in immobilized than in planktonic cells, with the exception of cells growing in 5 % NaCl, in which PHA accumulation was drastically lower in both. Therefore, for obtaining high PHA concentrations, the use of immobilized cells may be a good alternative to the PHA accumulation by bacteria growing in the classical, planktonic mode. From the ecological point of view, increased PHA accumulation in detached cells frombiofi lms would be a natural strategy to improve bacterial dispersion capacity and, consequently, to increase survival in stressed environments. [Int Microbiol 2012; 15(4):191-199]
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