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Biotechnol Adv. 2011 Jul-Aug;29(4):442-52. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Organic solvent adaptation of Gram positive bacteria: applications and biotechnological potentials.

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Planta Piloto de Procesos Industriales Microbiológicos (PROIMI), Av. Belgrano y Pasaje Caseros, T4001 MVB Tucumán, Argentina.


Organic-solvent-tolerant bacteria are considered extremophiles with different tolerance levels that change among species and strains, but also depend on the inherent toxicity of the solvent. Extensive studies to understand the mechanisms of organic solvent tolerance have been done in Gram-negative bacteria. On the contrary, the information on the solvent tolerance mechanisms in Gram-positive bacteria remains scarce. Possible shared mechanisms among Gram-(-) and Gram-(+) microorganisms include: energy-dependent active efflux pumps that export toxic organic solvents to the external medium; cis-to-trans isomerization of unsaturated membrane fatty acids and modifications in the membrane phospholipid headgroups; formation of vesicles loaded with toxic compounds; and changes in the biosynthesis rate of phospholipids to accelerate repair processes. However, additional physiological responses of Gram-(+) bacteria to organic solvents seem to be specific. The aim of the present work is to review the state of the art of responsible mechanisms for organic solvent tolerance in Gram-positive bacteria, and their industrial and environmental biotechnology potential.

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