Bioprospecting of whole-cell biocatalysts for cholesterol biotransformation

  • Victoria GiorgiEmail author
  • Michel Chaves
  • Pilar Menéndez
  • Carlos García Carnelli
Original Paper


Microorganisms were isolated from industrial wool scouring effluents and from the soil adjacent to the wastewater treatment lagoon, both sterols-rich environments, in order to search for novel biocatalysts able to transform cholesterol. The isolates were identified on the basis of morphological and biochemical characteristics and phylogenetic analysis. Furthermore, a rapid and accurate bacteria identification by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry was carried out. Bacteria and fungi including representatives of the genera Fusarium, Talaromyces, Trichoderma, Mucor, Aspergillus, Citrobacter, Proteus, Klebsiella, Exiguobacterium, Acinetobacter, Tsukamurella, Bacillus, and Streptomyces were found and evaluated for their ability to biotransform cholesterol by whole-cell treatment system. The results show that a Trichoderma koningiopsis strain, as well as two strains of Mucor circinelloides were able to transform cholesterol into value-added products. The major products were characterized as 7β-hydroxycholesterol, 4-cholesten-3-one, 5α,6α-epoxycholestan-3β-ol and 5β,6β-epoxycholestan-3β-ol. To the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first report of cholesterol biotransformation by representatives of Trichoderma and Mucor genera.

Graphical abstract


Biotransformation Cholesterol MALDI-TOF MS Mucor Trichoderma Whole-cell biocatalyst 



The authors are grateful to Lanasur SA for allowing them to take samples from the wool scouring wastewater treatment system. The authors thank Professor Anita Marsaioli and Dr. María Lair Sabóia, of Institute of Chemistry, University of Campinas; and Dr. Paula Rodríguez, Dr. Sonia Rodríguez, and Dr. Guillermo Moyna of Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, for their assistance with this Project. This study was funded by Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (Award POS_NAC_2013_1_11432), Comisión Académica de Posgrado (CAP), Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica (CSIC), Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas (PEDECIBA), and Sociedad Uruguaya de Biociencias (SUB).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11274_2018_2586_MOESM1_ESM.docx (42.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43680 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biocatálisis y Biotransformaciones, Departamento de Química Orgánica y, Departamento de Biociencias, Facultad de QuímicaUniversidad de la República (UdelaR)MontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.LaBioChem, Institute of ChemistryUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Farmacognosia y Productos Naturales, Departamento de Química Orgánica, Facultad de QuímicaUniversidad de la República (UdelaR)MontevideoUruguay

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