Author(s): Youssef NH, Duncan KE, Nagle DP, Savage KN, Knapp RM,
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Abstract Three methods to detect biosurfactant production, drop collapse, oil spreading, and blood agar lysis, were compared for their ease of use and reliability in relation to the ability of the cultures to reduce surface tension. The three methods were used to test for biosurfactant production in 205 environmental strains with different phylogenetic affiliations. Surface tension of select strains that gave conflicting results with the above three methods was also measured. Sixteen percent of the strains that lysed blood agar tested negative for biosurfactant production with the other two methods and had little reduction in surface tension (values above 60 mN/m). Thirty eight percent of the strains that did not lyse blood agar tested positive for biosurfactant production with the other two methods and had surface tension values as low as 35 mN/m. There was a very strong, negative, linear correlation between the diameter of clear zone obtained with the oil spreading technique and surface tension (rs = -0.959) and a weaker negative correlation between drop collapse method and surface tension (rs = -0.82), suggesting that the oil spreading technique better predicted biosurfactant production than the drop collapse method. The use of the drop collapse method as a primary method to detect biosurfactant producers, followed by the determination of the biosurfactant concentration using the oil spreading technique, constitutes a quick and easy protocol to screen and quantify biosurfactant production. The large number of false negatives and positives obtained with the blood agar lysis method and its poor correlation to surface tension (rs = -0.15) demonstrated that it is not a reliable method to detect biosurfactant production.
This article was published in J Microbiol Methods
and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology