Overview on Glycosylated Lipids Produced by Bacteria and Fungi: Rhamno-, Sophoro-, Mannosylerythritol and Cellobiose Lipids
Wide ranges of microorganisms produce glycosylated lipids (GL), which are characterized by their tensio-active properties. Therefore, they can be used in different industrial applications as biosurfactants, such as food, agriculture, cosmetics, and health products among others. Two GL biosurfactants, rhamnolipids (RL) and sophorolipids (SL), are now commercially available and share a significant part of the biosurfactant market that in 2017 represented about 2.5% of the total surfactants market, estimated at 15 million tons globally.In this chapter, we present a general overview of GL biosurfactants in terms of their diversity and the microorganisms that produce them. Additionally, we focus on the more detailed description of RL, SL, mannosylerythritol lipids (MEL), and cellobiose lipids (CL). Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the ubiquitous opportunistic pathogenic bacterium, is the best RL producer, but other non-pathogenic bacteria like Burkholderia thailandensis and Pseudomonas chlororaphis NRRL B-30761 are also capable of producing them naturally. In addition, Pseudomonas putida has been used as heterologous host to produce RL with good yields. Here we describe the biosynthetic pathway for RL production, the genes involved in its synthesis, and some of the challenges for producing a homogeneous RL product in high quantities that is suitable for specific applications. SL, MEL, and CL are some of the GL biosurfactants produced in high quantities by fungi, like Starmerella bombicola, Moesziomyces aphidis, or Ustilago maydis. We provide an overview of some of their characteristics, insights on the metabolic pathways involved in their synthesis and genetic modifications performed to increase their production, as well as fermentation and purification strategies and some of their applications.