• anionic;
  • Bacillus sp.;
  • exopolymers;
  • Microbacterium sp.;
  • surfactants;
  • tropical intertidal biofilm bacteria


Aim:  This study was performed to determine the potential of tropical intertidal biofilm bacteria as a source of novel exopolymers (EPS).

Methods and Results:  A screening procedure was implemented to detect EPS-producing biofilm bacteria. Isolates MC3B-10 and MC6B-22, identified respectively as a Microbacterium species and Bacillus species by 16S rDNA and cellular fatty acids analyses, produced different EPS, as evidenced by colorimetric and gas chromatographic analyses. The polymer produced by isolate MC3B-10 displays significant surfactant activity, and may chelate calcium as evidenced by spectroscopic analysis.

Conclusions:  Polymer MC3B-10 appears to be a glycoprotein, while EPS MC6B-22 seems to be a true polysaccharide dominated by neutral sugars but with significant concentrations of uronic acids and hexosamines. EPS MC3B-10 possesses a higher surfactant activity than that of commercial surfactants, and given its anionic nature, may chelate cations thus proving useful in bioremediation. The chemical composition of polymer MC6B-22 suggests its potential biomedical application in tissue regeneration.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  This is the first report of a Microbacterium species producing EPS with surfactant properties, which expands our knowledge of the micro-organisms capable of producing these biomolecules. Furthermore, this work shows that tropical intertidal environments are a nonpreviously recognized habitat for bioprospecting EPS-producing bacteria, and that these molecules might be involved in ecological roles protecting the cells against dessication.