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Membrane fluidity of halophilic ectoine-secreting bacteria related to osmotic and thermal treatment

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Abstract

In response to sudden decrease in osmotic pressure, halophilic microorganisms secrete their accumulated osmolytes. This specific stress response, combined with physiochemical responses to the altered environment, influence the membrane properties and integrity of cells, with consequent effects on growth and yields in bioprocesses, such as bacterial milking. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in membrane fluidity and integrity induced by environmental stress in ectoine-secreting organisms. The halophilic ectoine-producing strains Alkalibacillus haloalkaliphilus and Chromohalobacter salexigens were treated hypo- and hyper-osmotically at several temperatures. The steady-state anisotropy of fluorescently labeled cells was measured, and membrane integrity assessed by flow cytometry and ectoine distribution. Strong osmotic downshocks slightly increased the fluidity of the bacterial membranes. As the temperature increased, the increasing membrane fluidity encouraged more ectoine release under the same osmotic shock conditions. On the other hand, combined shock treatments increased the number of disintegrated cells. From the ectoine release and membrane integrity measurements under coupled thermal and osmotic shock conditions, we could optimize the secretion conditions for both bacteria.

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Abbreviations

DMSO:

Dimethyl sulfoxide

DPH:

1,6-Diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene

I :

Fluorescence emission intensity

PI:

Propidium iodide

r DPH :

Steady-state anisotropy

T m :

Phase transition temperature

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Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG), No. FR 2596/2-1.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

Author information

Correspondence to Rainer Krull.

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Bergmann, S., David, F., Clark, W. et al. Membrane fluidity of halophilic ectoine-secreting bacteria related to osmotic and thermal treatment. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 36, 1829–1841 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00449-013-0957-8

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Keywords

  • Membrane fluidity
  • Steady-state fluorescence anisotropy
  • Osmotic and thermal shock
  • Ectoine release
  • Halophile bacteria