Sophorolipid biosynthesis and production from diverse hydrophilic and hydrophobic carbon substrates

  • Xiaojing Ma
  • Li Meng
  • Huimin Zhang
  • Liye Zhou
  • Junyang Yue
  • Huixia Zhu
  • Risheng Yao


Sophorolipids (SLs), mainly synthesized by yeasts, were a sort of biosurfactant with the highest fermentation level at present. In recent years, SLs have drawn extensive attention for their excellent physiochemical properties and physiological activities. Besides, issues such as economics, sustainability, and use of renewable resources also stimulate the shift from chemical surfactants towards green or microbial-derived biosurfactants. SLs’ large-scale production and application were restricted by the relatively high production costs. Currently, waste streams from agriculture, food and oil refining industries, etc., have been exploited as low-cost renewable substrates for SL production. Advanced cultivation method, uncommonly used substrates, and new genetically modified SL-producing mutants were also designed and applied to improve the productivity or the special properties of SLs. In this review, a systematic and detailed description of primary and secondary metabolism pathways involved in SL biosynthesis was summarized firstly. Furthermore, based on the pathways of SL biosynthesis from different carbon substrates, we reviewed the current knowledge and advances in the exploration of cost-effective and infrequently used hydrophilic and hydrophobic substrates for large or specialized SL production.


sophorolipids biosynthesis pathways hydrophilic substrates hydrophobic substrates cultivation methods 


Funding information

This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (No. JZ2019YYPY0029), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31400049), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2015T80646).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

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


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaojing Ma
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Li Meng
    • 1
  • Huimin Zhang
    • 1
  • Liye Zhou
    • 2
  • Junyang Yue
    • 1
  • Huixia Zhu
    • 1
  • Risheng Yao
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Food and Biological EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.Department of Medical OncologyDana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  3. 3.Yue Kang Pharmaceutical GroupAnhui Nature Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.FuyangChina

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