alexa Rhamnolipids--next generation surfactants?
Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering

Journal of Chemical Engineering & Process Technology

Author(s): Mller MM, Kgler JH, Henkel M, Gerlitzki M, Hrmann B,

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Abstract The demand for bio-based processes and materials in the petrochemical industry has significantly increased during the last decade because of the expected running out of petroleum. This trend can be ascribed to three main causes: (1) the increased use of renewable resources for chemical synthesis of already established product classes, (2) the replacement of chemical synthesis of already established product classes by new biotechnological processes based on renewable resources, and (3) the biotechnological production of new molecules with new features or better performances than already established comparable chemically synthesized products. All three approaches are currently being pursued for surfactant production. Biosurfactants are a very promising and interesting substance class because they are based on renewable resources, sustainable, and biologically degradable. Alkyl polyglycosides are chemically synthesized biosurfactants established on the surfactant market. The first microbiological biosurfactants on the market were sophorolipids. Of all currently known biosurfactants, rhamnolipids have the highest potential for becoming the next generation of biosurfactants introduced on the market. Although the metabolic pathways and genetic regulation of biosynthesis are known qualitatively, the quantitative understanding relevant for bioreactor cultivation is still missing. Additionally, high product titers have been exclusively described with vegetable oil as sole carbon source in combination with Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. Competitive productivity is still out of reach for heterologous hosts or non-pathogenic natural producer strains. Thus, on the one hand there is a need to gain a deeper understanding of the regulation of rhamnolipid production on process and cellular level during bioreactor cultivations. On the other hand, there is a need for metabolizable renewable substrates, which do not compete with food and feed. A sustainable bioeconomy approach should combine a holistic X-omics strategy with metabolic engineering to achieve the next step in rhamnolipid production based on non-food renewable resources. This review discusses different approaches towards optimization of rhamnolipid production and enhancement of product spectra. The optimization of rhamnolipid production with P. aeruginosa strains, screening methods for new non-pathogenic natural rhamnolipid producers and recombinant rhamnolipid production are examined. Finally, biocatalysis with rhamnolipids for the synthesis of l-rhamnose, β-hydroxyfatty acids, and tailor-made surfactants is discussed. Biosurfactants are still in the phase of initial commercialization. However, for next generation development of rhamnolipid production processes and next generation biosurfactants there are still considerable obstacles to be surmounted, which are discussed here. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This article was published in J Biotechnol and referenced in Journal of Chemical Engineering & Process Technology

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