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Peculiarities and biotechnological potential of environmental adaptation by Geobacillus species

Abstract

The genus Geobacillus comprises thermophilic bacilli capable of endospore formation. The members of this genus provide thermostable proteins and can be used in whole cell applications at elevated temperatures; therefore, these organisms are of biotechnological importance. While these applications have been described in previous reviews, the present paper highlights the environmental adaptations and genome diversifications of Geobacillus spp. and their applications in evolutionary-protein engineering. Despite their obligate thermophilic properties, Geobacillus spp. are widely distributed in nature. Because several isolates demonstrate remarkable properties for cell reproduction in their respective niches, they seem to exist not only as endospores but also as vegetative cells in diverse environments. This suggests their excellence in environmental adaptation via genome diversification; in fact, evidence suggests that Geobacillus spp. were derived from Bacillus spp. while diversifying their genomes via horizontal gene transfer. Moreover, when subjected to an environmental stressor, Geobacillus spp. diversify their genomes using inductive mutations and transposable elements to produce derivative cells that are adaptive to the stressor. Notably, inductive mutations in Geobacillus spp. occur more rapidly and frequently than the stress-induced mutagenesis observed in other microorganisms. Owing to this, Geobacillus spp. can efficiently generate mutant genes coding for thermostable enzyme variants from the thermolabile enzyme genes under appropriate selection pressures. This phenomenon provides a new approach to generate thermostable enzymes, termed as thermoadaptation-directed enzyme evolution, thereby expanding the biotechnological potentials of Geobacillus spp. In this review, we have discussed this approach using successful examples and major challenges yet to be addressed.

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Funding

This work was funded by the following organizations: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant numbers: 25450105 and 17K06925); Program for Promotion of Basic and Applied Researches for Innovations in Bio-oriented Industry, Japan; the Science and Technology Research Promotion Program for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Food Industry, Japan; Nagase Science and Technology Foundation; and the Institute for Fermentation, Osaka, Japan.

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Correspondence to Hirokazu Suzuki.

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The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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

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Suzuki, H. Peculiarities and biotechnological potential of environmental adaptation by Geobacillus species. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 102, 10425–10437 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-9422-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-9422-6

Keywords

  • Environmental adaptation
  • Geobacillus
  • Genome diversification
  • Thermophile
  • Thermostable enzymes