Correlation between delta-endotoxin and proteolytic activities produced by Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki growing in an economic production medium
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Bacillus thuringiensis is a Gram positive bacterium that produces an insecticidal crystalline protein making it one of the most important biocontrol agents for pest management. Bioinsecticides based on B. thuringiensis were produced by fermentation processes in liquid media. Cultural conditions controlling proteolytic activities in different culture media were investigated to study the possible correlations between B. thuringiensis production of proteases and delta-endotoxins in a low-cost complex medium. Aeration appeared to play an important role in delta-endotoxin production. The correlation between proteolytic activity and aeration does not seem to be reliable. A negative correlation (correlation coefficient =− 0.774) was established between protease activity and delta-endotoxin production. In order to prove this correlation, protease hypo-producing and overproducing mutants were isolated through random mutagenesis of two wild strains, BUPM13 and BUPM5, by using nitrous acid. Interestingly, delta-endotoxin production of BUPM13-1, BUPM13-2 and BUPM13-3 was markedly improved when compared to the wild strain BUPM 13, reaching 2.1-fold, 3.69-fold and 8.13-fold, respectively. Maximal protease activity (540-2468 UI) obtained by BUPM5-1 and BUPM5-2 was 2.34-fold and 10.7-fold, respectively, more than that obtained by the wild strain BUPM5 with a drastic decrease of their delta-endotoxin production. Study of delta-endotoxin production by the selected mutants confirmed that insecticidal crystal protein stability in the culture strongly depends on the level of endogenous protease activity. This was also confirmed by bioassays measuring the LC50 using larvae of Ephestia kuehniella. Determining protease activity in fermentation culture could be useful in indirectly predicting the potency of B. thuringiensis strains with high insecticidal activities. This would allow low-cost selection of overproducing wild isolates or mutants in the screening programmes for the reduction of production cost, which is important from a practical point of view.
- Biological & Environmental Sciences [185 items ]