Nitrile Metabolizing Yeasts

  • Tek Chand Bhalla
  • Monica Sharma
  • Nitya Nand Sharma

Nitriles and amides are widely distributed in the biotic and abiotic components of our ecosystem. Nitrile form an important group of organic compounds which find their applications in the synthesis of a large number of compounds used as/in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, plastics, dyes, etc>. Nitriles are mainly hydro-lyzed to corresponding amide/acid in organic chemistry. Industrial and agricultural activities have also lead to release of nitriles and amides into the environment and some of them pose threat to human health. Biocatalysis and biotransformations are increasingly replacing chemical routes of synthesis in organic chemistry as a part of ‘green chemistry’. Nitrile metabolizing organisms or enzymes thus has assumed greater significance in all these years to convert nitriles to amides/ acids. The nitrile metabolizing enzymes are widely present in bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Yeasts metabolize nitriles through nitrilase and/or nitrile hydratase and amidase enzymes. Only few yeasts have been reported to possess aldoxime dehydratase. More than sixty nitrile metabolizing yeast strains have been hither to isolated from cyanide treatment bioreactor, fermented foods and soil. Most of the yeasts contain nitrile hydratase-amidase system for metabolizing nitriles. Transformations of nitriles to amides/acids have been carried out with free and immobilized yeast cells. The nitrilases of Torulopsis candida>and Exophiala oligosperma>R1 are enantioselec-tive and regiospecific respectively. Geotrichum>sp. JR1 grows in the presence of 2M acetonitrile and may have potential for application in bioremediation of nitrile contaminated soil/water. The nitrilase of E. oligosperma>R1 being active at low pH (3–6) has shown promise for the hydroxy acids. Immobilized yeast cells hydrolyze some additional nitriles in comparison to free cells. It is expected that more focus in future will be on purification, characterization, cloning, expression and immobilization of nitrile metabolizing enzymes of yeasts.


Nitrile yeast nitrilase nitrile hydratase-amidase Exophiala oligosperma Torulaopsis candida 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tek Chand Bhalla
    • 1
  • Monica Sharma
    • 1
  • Nitya Nand Sharma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyHimachal Pradesh UniversityIndia

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