Bioprospecting of novel thraustochytrids from Scotland for high value compounds
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Thraustochytrids are marine microheterotrophs and important producers of many industrially relevant compounds such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), extracellular enzymes, carotenoids, and proteins. Despite their growing importance in recent years, there is currently very limited data regarding the biodiversity and biotechnological potential of Scottish strains. The project aimed to isolate novel thraustochytrids from a temperate climate of Scotland and to screen them for the production of biotechnologically relevant compounds. To achieve this, twenty thraustochytrids were isolated from the Scottish saltmarshes and screened for the presence of lipids, extracellular enzymes, total proteins, antimicrobial agents, and biosurfactants by the adoption of the sulfo-phospho colorimetric assay, substrate digestion plates, Bradford assay, disc diffusion assay, and emulsification assay, respectively. The results showed a relative abundance of thraustochytrids in the Scottish coastal regions as well as established a reliable method of their isolation from this area. Moreover, the study confirmed the ability of thraustochytrids to produce many important hydrolyzing enzymes including chitinase, cellulase, and amylase. Isolated thraustochytrids were also able to synthesize emulsifying agents, an ability that has never been reported before. Overall, the results here show that isolated thraustochytrids produce a variety of biotechnologically relevant compounds with the potential to contribute to key biotechnological sectors.