Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 8, pp 3635–3647 | Cite as

Biolubricant potential of exopolysaccharides from the cyanobacterium Cyanothece epiphytica

  • Dharitri Borah
  • Sangeetha Nainamalai
  • Subramanian Gopalakrishnan
  • Jayashree Rout
  • Naiyf S. Alharbi
  • Sulaiman Ali Alharbi
  • Thajuddin Nooruddin
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Exopolysaccaharides (EPS) are carbohydrate polymers secreted by microbial cells, as a protective layer termed sheath or capsule. Their composition is variable. Optimisation of nutrient factors and the effect of some simple stresses on the ability of Cyanothece epiphytica to produce EPS were tested. Of the tested stresses, exposure to ozone for 50 s at 0.06 mg/L resulted in a relatively high EPS yield, without any damage to cell structure. EPS was characterised physicochemically. Chemically, it was found to be composed of pentoses arabinose and xylose; hexoses glucose, galactose and mannose; and the deoxyhexose fucose sugars which were sulphated and with different functional groups. EPS from C. epiphytica was found to be a good hydrophobic dispersant, an excellent emulsifier as well as a flocculant. Its potential as a biolubricant with characteristics better than the conventional lubricant ‘grease’ was revealed through analysis. This study gave the clue for developing a commercial technology to produce a less expensive and more environment-friendly natural lubricant from the cyanobacterium C. epiphytica for tribological applications.


Cyanobacteria Extracellular polysaccharide Optimisation Stress Ozone (O3Biolubricant 



The authors acknowledge the Department of Science and Technology-Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (DST-PURSE) program ([SR/FT/LS-113/2009), Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bangalore, India, and the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSIR), Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India.

Funding information

This study was funded by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), government of India for the project on National Repository for Microalgae and Cyanobacteria—Freshwater (BT/PR7005/PBD26/357). The corresponding author (Dr. NT) extends the appreciation to the International Scientific Partnership Program (ISPP), King Saud University for funding the research work through ISPP# 0081.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dharitri Borah
    • 1
  • Sangeetha Nainamalai
    • 1
  • Subramanian Gopalakrishnan
    • 2
  • Jayashree Rout
    • 3
  • Naiyf S. Alharbi
    • 4
  • Sulaiman Ali Alharbi
    • 4
  • Thajuddin Nooruddin
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, School of Life SciencesBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia
  2. 2.Central Inter-Disciplinary Research Facility (CIDRF)Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute CampusPuducherryIndia
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Environmental ScienceAssam UniversitySilcharIndia
  4. 4.Department of Botany and Microbiology, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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