Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 101, Issue 10, pp 4085–4092 | Cite as

Comparison of transplastomic Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Nicotiana tabacum expression system for the production of a bacterial endoglucanase

  • Matteo Faè
  • Sonia Accossato
  • Rino Cella
  • Fabrizia Fontana
  • Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont
  • Sadhu Leelavathi
  • Vanga Siva Reddy
  • Paolo LongoniEmail author
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


The bulk production of recombinant enzymes by either prokaryotic or eukaryotic organisms might contribute to replace environmentally non-friendly chemistry-based industrial processes with enzyme-based biocatalysis, provided the cost of enzyme production is low. In this context, it is worth noting that the production of recombinant proteins by photosynthetic organisms offer both eukaryotic (nuclear) and prokaryotic (chloroplast) alternatives, along with the advantage of an autotrophic nutrition. Compared to nuclear transformation, chloroplast transformation generally allows a higher level of accumulation of the recombinant protein of interest. Furthermore, among the photosynthetic organisms, there is a choice of using either multicellular or unicellular ones. Tobacco, being a non-food and non-feed plant, has been considered as a good choice for producing enzymes with applications in technical industry, using a transplastomic approach. Also, unicellular green algae, in particular Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, have been proposed as candidate organisms for the production of recombinant proteins. In the light of the different features of these two transplastomic systems, we decided to make a direct comparison of the efficiency of production of a bacterial endoglucanase. With respect to the amount obtained, 14 mg g−1 of biomass fresh weight equivalent to 8–10% of the total protein content and estimated production cost, 1.5–2€ kg−1, tobacco proved to be far more favorable for bulk enzyme production when compared to C. reinhardtii which accumulated this endoglucanase at 0.003% of the total protein.


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Tobacco Chloroplast Cellulase Molecular farming 



We thank Prof. Paolo Iadarola and Dr. Marco Fumagalli for their technical help. We gratefully acknowledge Fondazione Bussolera-Branca (FBB) for the generous financial support. The authors are indebted to Dr. Fabio Cei (President of FBB) and Prof. Roberto Schmid for their continuous support and interest in our work. Also, we are thankful to ICGEB and DBT, Govt. of India, for the financial support. This work was supported in part (P.L. and M.G.-C.) by the University of Geneva and the Swiss National Science Foundation (31003A_146300).

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.

Supplementary material

253_2017_8164_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.4 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2468 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and BiotechnologyUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Laboratory of Plant PhysiologyUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Botany and Plant BiologyUniversity of GenevaGenèveSwitzerland
  4. 4.Plant Transformation GroupInternational Center for Genetic Engineering and BiotechnologyNew DelhiIndia

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