Isolation and characterization of halophilic Archaea able to produce biosurfactants

  • S. Kebbouche-GanaEmail author
  • M. L. Gana
  • S. Khemili
  • F. Fazouane-Naimi
  • N. A. Bouanane
  • M. Penninckx
  • H. Hacene
Original Paper


Halotolerant microorganisms able to live in saline environments offer a multitude of actual or potential applications in various fields of biotechnology. This is why some strains of Halobacteria from an Algerian culture collection were screened for biosurfactant production in a standard medium using the qualitative drop-collapse test and emulsification activity assay. Five of the Halobacteria strains reduced the growth medium surface tension below 40 mN m−1, and two of them exhibited high emulsion-stabilizing capacity. Diesel oil-in-water emulsions were stabilized over a broad range of conditions, from pH 2 to 11, with up to 35% sodium chloride or up to 25% ethanol in the aqueous phase. Emulsions were stable to three cycles of freezing and thawing. The components of the biosurfactant were determined; it contained sugar, protein and lipid. The two Halobacteria strains with enhanced biosurfactant producers, designated strain A21 and strain D21, were selected to identify by phenotypic, biochemical characteristics and by partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The strains have Mg2+, and salt growth requirements are always above 15% (w/v) salts with an optimal concentration of 15–25%. Analyses of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences of the two strains suggested that they were halophiles belonging to genera of the family Halobacteriaceae, Halovivax (strain A21) and Haloarcula (strain D21). To our knowledge, this is the first report of biosurfactant production at such a high salt concentration.


Halobacteria Screening Biosurfactant Surface tension 



This work was supported with the assistance of the Sonatrach Center for Research and Development, a scientific cooperation agreement with the Algerian Ministry of Education. We are grateful to Pascal Groffe for technical assistance.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Kebbouche-Gana
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. L. Gana
    • 3
  • S. Khemili
    • 2
  • F. Fazouane-Naimi
    • 2
  • N. A. Bouanane
    • 1
  • M. Penninckx
    • 4
  • H. Hacene
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Biological Sciences, Laboratory of MicrobiologyU.S.T.H.BAlgiersAlgeria
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity M’Hamed Bougara of BoumerdesBoumerdesAlgeria
  3. 3.Centre of Research and Development, Laboratory of CorrosionSONATRACHBoumerdesAlgeria
  4. 4.Service of Physiology and Microbial EcologyBrusselsBelgium

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