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Biosurfactants are tensio-active agents that have often been proposed as a means to enhance the aqueous solubility of hydrophobic organic contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Biosurfactant-producing bacteria such as those belonging to the genus Pseudomonas might therefore enhance PAH availability to PAH-degrading bacteria. We tested the effects of two types of biosurfactants produced by Pseudomonas sp., cyclic lipopeptides and rhamnolipids, on phenanthrene bioavailability. Bioavailability was judged from growth rates on phenanthrene and from specific induction of a phenanthrene-responsive GFP-reporter in Burkholderia sartisoli strain RP037. Co-culturing of strain RP037 with the lipopeptide-producing bacterium Pseudomonas putida strain PCL1445 enhanced GFP expression compared to a single culture, but this effect was not significantly different when strain RP037 was co-cultivated with a non-lipopeptide-producing mutant of P. putida. The addition of partially purified supernatant extracts from the P. putida lipopeptide producer equally did not unequivocally enhance phenanthrene bioavailability to strain RP037 compared to controls. In contrast, a 0.1% rhamnolipid solution strongly augmented RP037 growth rates on phenanthrene and led to a significantly larger proportion of cells in culture with high GFP expression. Our data therefore suggest that biosurfactant effects may be strongly dependent on the strain and type of biosurfactant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1139
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

ID: 190537