Alginate production by Azotobacter vinelandii mutants altered in poly-β-hydroxybutyrate and alginate biosynthesis
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Mutant AT268 of Azotobacter vinelandii — showing diminished production of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) due to a mutation in phbR (the gene coding for the transcriptional activator of the phbBAC biosynthetic operon); mutant CNT26, containing a mutation (muc26) that increases the transcription of gene algD (encoding GDP mannose dehydrogenase, the key enzyme in alginate biosynthesis); and mutant DM, carrying both phbR and muc26 mutations — were characterised in terms of alginate production, broth viscosity, and molecular weight of the alginate. All the mutants evaluated produced 25% less alginate with respect to that produced by the wild type. Unexpectedly and with no apparent relation to the phbR and muc26 mutations, mutant DM exhibited the highest molecular weight ever reported for a bacterial alginate (up to 4×106 Da), with a very low polydispersity index (1.3). Acetyl content in the alginate produced by this strain was low (1.4–2.6%). These characteristics make this mutant a very valuable source for producing alginates with improved properties.
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