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Environ Technol. 2010 Jul-Aug;31(8-9):825-34. doi: 10.1080/09593330903370026.

Industrial and environmental applications of halophilic microorganisms.

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Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, The Institute of Life Sciences, Moshe Shilo Minerva Center for Marine Biogeochemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel.


In comparison with the thermophilic and the alkaliphilic extremophiles, halophilic microorganisms have as yet found relatively few biotechnological applications. Halophiles are involved in centuries-old processes such as the manufacturing of solar salt from seawater and the production of traditional fermented foods. Two biotechnological processes involving halophiles are highly successful: the production of beta-carotene by the green alga Dunaliella and the production of ectoine (1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid), used as a stabilizer for enzymes and now also applied in cosmetic products, from moderately halophilic bacteria. The potential use of bacteriorhodopsin, the retinal protein proton pump of Halobacterium, in optoelectronic devices and photochemical processes is being explored, and may well lead to commercial applications in the near future. Demand for salt-tolerant enzymes in current manufacturing or related processes is limited. Other possible uses of halophilic microorganisms such as treatment of saline and hypersaline wastewaters, and the production of exopolysaccharides, poly-beta-hydroxyalkanoate bioplastics and biofuel are being investigated, but no large-scale applications have yet been reported.

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