Crossing boundaries: the importance of cellular membranes in industrial biotechnology

  • Sylwia Jezierska
  • Inge N. A. Van Bogaert
Fermentation, Cell Culture and Bioengineering - Review


How small molecules cross cellular membranes is an often overlooked issue in an industrial microbiology and biotechnology context. This is to a large extent governed by the technical difficulties to study these transport systems or by the lack of knowledge on suitable efflux pumps. This review emphasizes the importance of microbial cellular membranes in industrial biotechnology by highlighting successful strategies of membrane engineering towards more resistant and hence better performing microorganisms, as well as transporter and other engineering strategies for increased efflux of primary and secondary metabolites. Furthermore, the benefits and limitations of eukaryotic subcellular compartmentalization are discussed, as well as the biotechnological potential of membrane vesicles.


Efflux Subcellular compartmentalization Cellular membrane Toxicity Export 



Sylwia Jezierska received a doctoral (PhD) grant Strategic Basic Research from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Grant Number 151610. The authors wish to thank Barbara Toch for revising the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Industrial Biotechnology and Biocatalysis, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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