Biolubricant potential of exopolysaccharides from the cyanobacterium Cyanothece epiphytica

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2018 Apr;102(8):3635-3647. doi: 10.1007/s00253-018-8892-x. Epub 2018 Mar 8.


Exopolysaccaharides (EPS) are carbohydrate polymers secreted by microbial cells, as a protective layer termed sheath or capsule. Their composition is variable. Optimisation of nutrient factors and the effect of some simple stresses on the ability of Cyanothece epiphytica to produce EPS were tested. Of the tested stresses, exposure to ozone for 50 s at 0.06 mg/L resulted in a relatively high EPS yield, without any damage to cell structure. EPS was characterised physicochemically. Chemically, it was found to be composed of pentoses arabinose and xylose; hexoses glucose, galactose and mannose; and the deoxyhexose fucose sugars which were sulphated and with different functional groups. EPS from C. epiphytica was found to be a good hydrophobic dispersant, an excellent emulsifier as well as a flocculant. Its potential as a biolubricant with characteristics better than the conventional lubricant 'grease' was revealed through analysis. This study gave the clue for developing a commercial technology to produce a less expensive and more environment-friendly natural lubricant from the cyanobacterium C. epiphytica for tribological applications.

Keywords: Biolubricant; Cyanobacteria; Extracellular polysaccharide; Optimisation; Ozone (O3); Stress.

MeSH terms

  • Cyanothece / chemistry*
  • Industrial Microbiology*
  • Lubricants / chemistry*
  • Lubricants / standards
  • Pentoses / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry


  • Lubricants
  • Pentoses
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial