Evaluating Cyanobacterial Chitosanase and Chitinase as Antifungal Enzymes and Screening for Cyanobacterial Antifungal Activity

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2013 - 64 pages
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Cyanobacteria are important primary producers and, along with eukaryotic algae, are one of the most promising sources of alternative fuels today. Algae exhibit rapid growth rates, can be grown on non-arable land, use poor quality water, and require less input cost since they use sunlight as their energy source. Combustion of algal biofuels is carbon neutral because the algae fix carbon dioxide in order to increase their biomass. Cyanobacteria have been successfully engineered to produce desired types of biofuel such as biodiesel, bio-oil, bio-syngas, bio-hydrogen, bio-ethanol and fatty acid based biofuels. But, algal farmers must also look ahead to other obstacles impeding commercialization of large-scale algal pond farms, including nutrient challenges and crop protection. Instances of outdoor algal pond crashes due to fungal parasites have already been reported. A defining characteristic of fungi is the presence of a chitinous cell wall and is a potential target for antifungal molecules. There has been a cyanobacterial chitosanase reported to have antifungal activity against plant pathogen. This chitosanase along with two homologs in two different cyanobacterial strains as well as an uncharacterized chitinase in another cyanobacterial strain were investigated as possible antifungal molecules for algal crop protection. Though all the proteins were found to have catalytic activity, they did not exhibit antifungal activity against the tested fungi. Additionally, 10 strains of cyanobacteria were screened to look for new antifungal molecules. No antifungal activity was observed from the cyanobacteria against the tested fungi.

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