Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 101, Issue 19, pp 7347–7356 | Cite as

Key role of alternative oxidase in lovastatin solid-state fermentation

  • Ailed Pérez-Sánchez
  • Salvador Uribe-Carvajal
  • Alfredo Cabrera-Orefice
  • Javier Barrios-González
Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology


Lovastatin is a commercially important secondary metabolite produced by Aspergillus terreus, either by solid-state fermentation or by submerged fermentation. In a previous work, we showed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation in idiophase positively regulates lovastatin biosynthetic genes. In addition, it has been found that lovastatin-specific production decreases with aeration in solid-state fermentation (SSF). To study this phenomenon, we determined ROS accumulation during lovastatin SSF, under high and low aeration conditions. Paradoxically, high aeration caused lower ROS accumulation, and this was the underlying reason of the aeration effect on lovastatin production. Looking for a mechanism that is lowering ROS production under those conditions, we studied alternative respiration. The alternative oxidase provides an alternative route for electrons passing through the electron transport chain to reduce oxygen. Here, we showed that an alternative oxidase (AOX) is expressed in SSF, and only during idiophase. It was shown that higher aeration induces higher alternative respiration (AOX activity), and this is a mechanism that limits ROS generation and keeps them within healthy limits and adequate signaling limits for lovastatin production. Indeed, the aox gene was induced in idiophase, i.e., at the time of ROS accumulation. Moreover, exogenous ROS (H2O2), added to lovastatin solid-state fermentation, induced higher AOX activity. This suggests that high O2 availability in SSF generates dangerously high ROS, so alternative respiration is induced in SSF, indirectly favoring lovastatin production. Conversely, alternative respiration was not detected in lovastatin-submerged fermentation (SmF), although exogenous ROS also induced relatively low AOX activity in SmF.


Alternative respiration Role in lovastatin regulation Solid-state fermentation 



This study was funded by CONACyT, Mexico, project CB-2013-01 222028.

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ailed Pérez-Sánchez
    • 1
  • Salvador Uribe-Carvajal
    • 2
  • Alfredo Cabrera-Orefice
    • 2
  • Javier Barrios-González
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de BiotecnologíaUniversidad Autónoma Metropolitana-IztapalapaMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Cdad. UniversitariaUNAMMexico CityMexico

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