Halophiles, Industrial Applications
Published Online: 15 APR 2010
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Encyclopedia of Industrial Biotechnology
How to Cite
DasSarma, P., Coker, J. A., Huse, V. and DasSarma, S. 2010. Halophiles, Industrial Applications. Encyclopedia of Industrial Biotechnology. 1–43.
- Published Online: 15 APR 2010
Halophilic (salt-loving) microorganisms have evolved physiological and genetic characteristics for success in their harsh saline environments. These characteristics include internal compatible solutes, efficient ion pumps, UV absorbing pigments, and acidic proteins, which help them to resist osmotic stress and the denaturing effects of salts, as well as the accompanying intense solar radiation. Many of the same characteristics which help them to counteract the deleterious effects of their environment also constitute valuable resources for biotechnology and nanotechnology. Although currently established applications of halophiles are limited primarily to compatible solutes in the cosmetic industry, and β-carotene and hydrolases in the nutritional and food industries, many other novel applications are under development. They include specialized applications for films of bacteriorhodopsin from halophiles for a variety of optical nanodevices, including high-capacity computer storage, and for stable enzymes from halophiles for use as industrial catalysts, some capable of functioning in organic solvents. Metabolic activities of halophiles are also being tapped for a variety of environmental applications, such as bioremediation of pollutants in saline wastewaters. Some subcellular components, such as polyhydroxyalkanoate granules, gas vesicles, and phospholipid vesicles, and bioactive compounds like halocins are being developed for medical applications. Applications of halophilic microorganisms are varied and represent significant commercial opportunities in the chemical, environmental, biofuel, medical, and educational industries.