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Synthesis of neutral lipids such as triacylglycerols (TAG) and wax esters (WE) is catalyzed in bacteria by wax ester synthase/diacylglycerol acyltransferase enzymes (WS/DGAT). We investigated the diversity of genes encoding this enzyme in contrasting natural environments from Patagonia (Argentina). The content of petroleum hydrocarbons in samples collected from oil-producing areas was measured. PCR-based analysis covered WS/DGAT occurrence in marine sediments and soil. No product was obtained in seawater samples. All clones retrieved from marine sediments affiliated with gammaproteobacterial sequences and within them, most phylotypes formed a unique cluster related to putative WS/DGAT belonging to marine OM60 clade. In contrast, soils samples contained phylotypes only related to actinomycetes. Among them, phylotypes affiliated with representatives largely or recently reported as oleaginous bacteria, as well as with others considered as possible lipid-accumulating bacteria based on the analysis of their annotated genomes. Our study shows for the first time that the environment could contain a higher variety of ws/dgat than that reported from bacterial isolates. The results of this study highlight the relevance of the environment in a natural process such as the synthesis and accumulation of neutral lipids. Particularly, both marine sediments and soil may serve as a useful source for novel WS/DGAT with biotechnological interest.
Lanfranconi, M. P., Alvarez, A. F., & Alvarez, H. M. (2015). Identification of genes coding for putative wax ester synthase/diacylglycerol acyltransferase enzymes in terrestrial and marine environments. AMB Express, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13568-015-0128-1