David L. Gutnick, Horacio Bach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Chemical surfactants constitute a major component used in a large number of industrial applications. The worldwide market for such products exceeds $29 billion. While the demand for surfactants stems from their efficiency in lowering interfacial tension as well as their relatively low cost, they are often toxic. Biosurfactants, amphipathic products of biological origin, have generated wide interest as potential nontoxic alternatives. Many of these materials are produced by microorganisms as fermentation products. Such products generally can be subdivided according to their size and molecular weight. The low-molecular-weight biosurfactants (LMBs), such as glycolipids, lipopeptides, fatty acids, and alcohols, are effective in lowering surface and interfacial tension. High-molecular weight biosurfactants (HMBs), exemplified by the emulsan bioemulsifier, preferentially orient themselves at oil/water interfaces, thereby preventing droplet coalescence. HMBs generally consist of both polysaccharide and a protein component, which confer hydrocarbon substrate specificity to the emulsifier. Here, we describe the chemical, biological, and some of the engineering aspects associated with biosurfactant production, formulation, and potential applications. In addition, we present new evidence on the role of emulsification-enhancing proteins (EEPs) and their ability to interact with and, thus, to transform biopolymers into HMBs by generating engineered protein-polymeric complexes (EEPOSANS). Several applications and strategies to lower cost of biosurfactant production and formulation are also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComprehensive Biotechnology
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780444640475
ISBN (Print)9780444640468
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Acinetobacter
  • Amphipathic
  • Bioemulsifier
  • Biopolymer
  • Biosurfactant
  • Emulsan
  • Emulsion
  • Glycolipid
  • Lipopeptide
  • Polysaccharide


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