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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Jan;65(1):221-30.

Production of wax esters during aerobic growth of marine bacteria on isoprenoid compounds

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Oceanographie et de Biogeochimie, UMR 6535, Centre d'Oceanologie de Marseille, OSU, Campus de Luminy, 13288 Marseille, France.


This paper describes the production of isoprenoid wax esters during the aerobic degradation of 6,10,14-trimethylpentadecan-2-one and phytol by four bacteria (Acinetobacter sp. strain PHY9, Pseudomonas nautica [IP85/617], Marinobacter sp. strain CAB [DSMZ 11874], and Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus [ATCC 49840]) isolated from the marine environment. Different pathways are proposed to explain the formation of these compounds. In the case of 6,10, 14-trimethylpentadecan-2-one, these esters result from the condensation of some acidic and alcoholic metabolites produced during the biodegradation, while phytol constitutes the alcohol moiety of most of the esters produced during growth on this isoprenoid alcohol. The amount of these esters formed increased considerably in N-limited cultures, in which the ammonium concentration corresponds to conditions often found in marine sediments. This suggests that the bacterial formation of isoprenoid wax esters might be favored in such environments. Although conflicting evidence exists regarding the stability of these esters in sediments, it seems likely that, under some conditions, bacterial esterification can enhance the preservation potential of labile compounds such as phytol.

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