Surfactin – A Review on Biosynthesis, Fermentation, Purification and Applications

Nikhil S. Shaligram and Rekha S. Singhal*

Food Engineering and Technology Department, Institute of Chemical Technology, Matunga, Mumbai, IN-400 019 India

Article history:

Received January 28, 2009
Accepted January 11, 2010

Key words:

biosurfactant, surfactin, Bacillus subtilis, biosynthesis, fermentation, purification


Surfactin, a bacterial cyclic lipopeptide, is produced by various strains of Bacillus subtilis and is primarily recognized as one of the most effective biosurfactants. It has the ability to reduce surface tension of water from 72 to 27 mN/m at a concentration as low as 0.005 %. The structure of surfactin consists of seven amino acids bonded to the carboxyl and hydroxyl groups of a 14-carbon fatty acid. Surfactin possesses a number of biological activities such as the ability to lyse erythrocytes, inhibit clot formation, lyse bacterial spheroplasts and protoplasts, and inhibit cyclic 3',5-monophosphate diesterase. The high cost of production and low yields have limited its use in various commercial applications. Both submerged and solid-state fermentation have been investigated with the mutational approach to improve the productivity. In this review, current state of knowledge on biosynthesis of surfactin, its fermentative production, purification, analytical methods and biomedical applications is presented.


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