Background: Microorganisms have devised ways by which they increase the bioavailability of many water immiscible substrates whose degradation rates are limited by their low water solubility. Hexadecane is one such water immiscible hydrocarbon substrate which forms an important constituent of oil. One major mechanism employed by hydrocarbon degrading organisms to utilize such substrates is the production of biosurfactants. However, much of the overall mechanism by which such organisms utilize hydrocarbon substrate still remains a mystery. Results: With an aim to gain more insight into hydrocarbon uptake mechanism, an efficient biosurfactant producing and n-hexadecane utilizing Pseudomonas sp was isolated from oil contaminated soil which was found to produce rhamnolipid type of biosurfactant containing a total of 13 congeners. Biosurfactant action brought about the dispersion of hexadecane to droplets smaller than 0.22 μm increasing the availability of the hydrocarbon to the degrading organism. Involvement of biosurfactant was further confirmed by electron microscopic studies. Biosurfactant formed an emulsion with hexadecane thereby facilitating increased contact between hydrocarbon and the degrading bacteria. Interestingly, it was observed that "internalization" of "biosurfactant layered hydrocarbon droplet" was taking place suggesting a mechanism similar in appearance to active pinocytosis, a fact not earlier visually reported in bacterial systems for hydrocarbon uptake. Conclusion: This study throws more light on the uptake mechanism of hydrocarbon by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We report here a new and exciting line of research for hydrocarbon uptake involving internalization of biosurfactant covered hydrocarbon inside cell for subsequent breakdown. © 2009 Cameotra and Singh; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Cameotra, S. S., & Singh, P. (2009). Synthesis of rhamnolipid biosurfactant and mode of hexadecane uptake by Pseudomonas species. Microbial Cell Factories, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2859-8-16