Evaluation of surfactin synthesis in a genome reduced Bacillus subtilis strain

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Strain engineering is often a method of choice towards increasing the yields of the biosurfactant surfactin which is naturally synthesized by many Bacillus spp., most notably Bacillus subtilis. In the current study, a genome reduced B. subtilis 168 strain lacking 10% of the genome was established and tested for its suitability to synthesize surfactin under aerobic and anaerobic conditions at 25 °C, 30 °C, 37 °C and 40 °C. This genome reduced strain was named IIG-Bs20-5-1 and lacks, amongst others, genes synthesizing the lipopeptide plipastatin, the antibiotic bacilysin, toxins and prophages, as well as genes involved in sporulation. Amongst all temperatures tested, 37 °C was overall superior. In comparison to the reference strain JABs24, a surfactin synthesizing variant of B. subtilis 168, strain IIG-Bs20-5-1 was both aerobically and anaerobically superior with respect to specific growth rates µ and yields YX/S. However, in terms of surfactin production, strain JABs24 reached higher absolute concentrations with up to 1147.03 mg/L and 296.37 mg/L under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, respectively. Concomitant, strain JABs24 reached higher YP/S and YP/X. Here, an outstanding YP/X of 1.541 g/g was obtained under anaerobic conditions at 37 °C. The current study indicates that the employed genome reduced strain IIG-Bs20-5-1 has several advantages over the strain JABs24 such as better conversion from glucose into biomass and higher growth rates. However, regarding surfactin synthesis and yields, the strain was overall inferior at the investigated temperatures and oxygen conditions. Further studies addressing process development and strain engineering should be performed combining the current observed advantages of the genome reduced strain to increase the surfactin yields and to construct a tailor-made genome reduced strain to realize the theoretically expected advantages of such genome reduced strains.




Geissler, M., Kühle, I., Morabbi Heravi, K., Altenbuchner, J., Henkel, M., & Hausmann, R. (2019). Evaluation of surfactin synthesis in a genome reduced Bacillus subtilis strain. AMB Express, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13568-019-0806-5

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