Biological Properties of Surface-Active Metabolites of Rhodococcus erythropolis Au-1 and Their Prospects for Crop Technology

Natalya Koretska, Оlena Karpenko, Volodimir Baranov, Vira Lubenets, Taisiya Nogina


Background. Trehalose lipids (TLs) are microbial surfactants, they are perspective for using in various industries and agriculture. Investigation of biosurfactants’ properties, as well as mechanisms of their influence on biological objects, is the important task of biotechnology.

Objective. The aim of the paper is to study the biological properties of TLs – metabolites of Rhodococcus erythropolis Au-1 – and possible approaches of their using in crop production.

Methods. Bacteria were grown on the Goodwin nutrient medium, TLs were extracted from the isolated biomass by the Folch mixture. The influence of test microorganisms on the permeability of cells’ membranes was studied by the release of extracellular protein. The protein content was determined by the Bradford method, the number of viable cells – by the method of serial dilution. Studying of the TLs effect on efficiency of the biocides was carried out on test bacteria by minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) of the preparations. The influence of the compositions of TLs and biocides on test fungi was evaluated by diameter of inhibition zones in disk susceptibility tests on agar medium. The effect of TLs on the activity of the phytohormone – indolyl 3-acetic acid (IAA) was determined in 2 biotests: on coleoptile stalks of wheat and rhizogenesis of bean seedlings. The influence of metabolites of R. erythropolis Au-1 strain on plant growth was determined in laboratory, vegetative and field experiments. The morphometric indices of wheat and soybean were evaluated after pre-sowing seed treatment. The presence of auxins in the supernatant of R. erythropolis Au-1 was determined with the specific reaction of Salkovsky.

Results. It was established that the TLs of R. erythropolis Au-1 strain promote an increase of permeability of cell membranes of phytopathogenic microorganisms (while remaining cell viability). It was shown that TLs enhance antimicrobial activity of biocide-thiosulfonates. The MIC and MBC of biocides in the compositions with trehalose lipids were reduced by 20–50% (for test bacteria), and the diameter of inhibition zones for phytopathogenic fungi increased by an average of 53%. The use of TLs in the IAA composition allows the active concentration of IOC to be reduced by 10 times. In experiments with plants, it has been shown that pre-sowing treatment of seeds with TLs solutions promotes an increase of root and sprout length of the seedlings by 29–37%, and their mass – by 20–31% relative to control. In laboratory conditions it was shown that the supernatant is the most effective preparation: pre-sowing treatment of wheat seed with the supernatant promotes an increase of root and sprout lengths by 58% and 24% respectively. It is established that phytohormones of auxin nature are in the supernatant of R. erythropolis strain.

Conclusions. Due to the effect on cell membranes permeability trehalose lipids promote increasing the effectiveness of biocides and plant growth regulators, as well as stimulating plant growth. The obtained results are promising for the development of effective and environmentally friendly products for modern crop production.


Trehalose lipids; Rhodococcus erythropolis; Permeability of cell membranes; Antimicrobial activity; Plant growth regulators


Mulligan CN, Sharma SK, Mudhoo A. Biosurfactants: research trends & applications. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Taylor&Francis Group; 2014. 146 p.

Panchak LV. Lectins of mushrooms of the family Russulaceae: functions, cleaning, structural peculiarities and possibilities of practical application. Biotechnologia Acta. 2019;12(1):29-38. DOI: 10.15407/biotech12.01.029

Wang S, Zhang Y, Ren H, Wang Y, Jiang W, Fang B. Strategies and perspectives of assembling multi-enzyme systems. Critical Rev Biotechnol. 2017;37(8):1024-37. DOI: 10.1080/07388551.2017.1303803

Mir Sh, Jamal P, Alama Md Z, Mir A B, Ansari A H. Microbial surface tensio-active compounds: production and industrial application perspectives. Int J Biotechnol Bioeng. 2017;3(8):273-92.

Abdel-Mawgoud AM, Stephanopoulos G. Simple glycolipids of microbes: chemistry, biological activity and metabolic engineering. Synthetic Systems Biotechnol. 2017;3(1):3-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.synbio.2017.12.001

Abbasi A, Sajid A, Haq N, Rahman S, Misbah Z, Sanober G, et al. Agricultural pollution: an emerging issue. In: Ahmad P, Wani M, Azooz M, Tran LS, editors. Improvement of crops in the era of climatic changes. New York: Springer Science+Business Media; 2014. Chapter 13. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8830-9_13

Mahmood I, Imadi SR, Shazadi K, Gul A, Hakeem KR. Effects of pesticides on environment. Іn: Hakeem K, Akhtar M, Abdullah S, editors. Plant, soil and microbes. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing; 2016. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-27455-3_13

Sachdev DP, Cameotra SS. Biosurfactants in agriculture. Int J Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013;97:1005-16. DOI: 10.1007/s00253-012-4641-8

Biopesticide Registration Action Document Bacillus subtilis Strain QST 713 (PC Code 006479). US Environmental Protection Agency [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2019 Feb 24]. Available from:

Biopesticides Registration Action Document Rhamnolipid Biosurfactant (PC Code 110029). US Environmental Protection Agency [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2019 Feb 24]. Available from:

Awada SM, Spendlove RS, Awada M, inventors; Agscitech Inc. US, assignee. Microbial biosurfactants as agents for controlling pests. United States patent 7994138 B2. 2011 Aug 09.

Awada SM, Awada MM, Spendlove RS, inventors; Agscitech Inc. US, assignee. Compositions and methods for controlling pests with glycolipids. United States patent 8680060 B2. 2014 March 25.

Donets АV, Koshelev VV, Bechtereva MN. Qualitative composition and quantitative content of mycobacteria lipids. Microbiologia. 1970;39(2):300-4.

Folch J, Lees M, Sloane Stanley GH. A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. J Bio Chem. 1957;226:497-509.

Williams AG., Wimpenny YW. Exopolysaccharide production by Pseudomonas NCIB 11264 grown in bat culture. J Bio Chem. 1977;102:12-21.

Vasileva-Tonkova E, Gesheva V. biosurfactant production by antarctic facultative anaerobe Pantoea sp. during growth on hydrocarbons. Current Microbiol. 2007;2:136-41. DOI: 10.1007/s00284-006-0345-6

Bradford MM. A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem. 1976;72(1-2):248-54. DOI: 10.1016/0003-2697(76)90527-3

Segi J. Methods of soil microbiology. Мoscow: Kolos; 1983. 296 p.

Sotirova A, Avramova T, Lazarkevich I, Lubenets V, Karpenko E, Galabova D. Antimicrobial potential of selected tiosulfonates – based biocides and biosurfactants against bacteria and fungi. Reports BAS. 2010;6:21-5.

Kefely VY, Turetskaya RH, Kof EM. Methods for determination of phytohormones, growth inhibitors, defoliants, and herbicides. Мoscow: Kolos; 1973. p. 7.

Harhota LV, Dovbish NF. Rhizogenesis of stalks of semi-arranged cuttings of ornamental sparse bush plants in the Donbas. Promyslova Botanyka. 2008;8:161-5.

Seeds of agricultural plants. Methods fоr seeds testing. Kyiv: Derzhspozhivstandart Ukrayini; 2003. 148 p. DSTU 4138-2002.

Dospehov BA. The field experiment method (with basics of statistical processing of research results). Мoscow: Agropromizdat; 1985. 351 p.

Lakyn AN. The course of variation statistics. Кyiv: Vyshcha Shkola; 1990. 116 р.

Koretska NI, Prystai MV, Karpenko OV. Rape phosphatide concentrate in the technologies of surfactants production by the Actinobacteria. Ukr Food J. 2014;3(3):429-36.

Ostroumov SA. Biological effects of surfactants. New York: CRC Press; 2005. 304 р.

Sotirova A, Spasova D, Vasileva-Tonkova E. Effects of rhamnolipid-biosurfactant on cell surface of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Microbiol Res. 2009;164(3):297-303. DOI: 10.1016/j.micres.2007.01.005

Sotirova A, Avramova T, Stoitsova S, Lazarkevich I, Lubenets V, Karpenko E, et al. The importance of rhamnolipid-biosurfactant induced changes in bacterial membrane lipids of Bacillus subtilis for the antimicrobial activity of thiosulfonates. Current Microbiol. 2012;65(5):534-41. DOI: 10.1007/s00284-012-0191-7

Pashynska V, Karpenko O. Mass spectrometric study of rhamnolipid supramolecular complexes with membrane phospholipids. In: Proceedings of Int Summer School Supramolecular Systems in Chemistry and Biology; 2010 Sep 6–10. p. 135.

Karpenko OV, Koretska NI, Scheglova NS, Karpenko IV, Baranov VI. Gramineae plants growth stimulation by surface-active rhamnolipids. Вiotechnologia Acta. 2013;6(6):94-9. DOI: 10.15407/biotech6.06.094

Sandstrom R, Richard P, Robert E. Selective delipidation of the plasma membrane by surfactants enrichment of sterols and activation of ATPase. Plant Physiol. 1989;90:1524-31. DOI: 10.1104/pp.90.4.1524

Shumylyna EV, Zonova NJ, Schipunov JA. Influence of surfactants on the phospholipase DII activity. Biologycheskie Membrany. 1998;15(4):414-9.

GOST Style Citations

Copyright (c) 2019 The Author(s)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.