The First Insight into Polyhydroxyalkanoates Accumulation in Multi-Extremophilic Rubrobacter xylanophilus and Rubrobacter spartanus

Microorganisms. 2021 Apr 24;9(5):909. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9050909.


Actinobacteria belonging to the genus Rubrobacter are known for their multi-extremophilic growth conditions-they are highly radiation-resistant, halotolerant, thermotolerant or even thermophilic. This work demonstrates that the members of the genus are capable of accumulating polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) since PHA-related genes are widely distributed among Rubrobacter spp. whose complete genome sequences are available in public databases. Interestingly, all Rubrobacter strains possess both class I and class III synthases (PhaC). We have experimentally investigated the PHA accumulation in two thermophilic species, R. xylanophilus and R. spartanus. The PHA content in both strains reached up to 50% of the cell dry mass, both bacteria were able to accumulate PHA consisting of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate monomeric units, none other monomers were incorporated into the polymer chain. The capability of PHA accumulation likely contributes to the multi-extremophilic characteristics since it is known that PHA substantially enhances the stress robustness of bacteria. Hence, PHA can be considered as extremolytes enabling adaptation to extreme conditions. Furthermore, due to the high PHA content in biomass, a wide range of utilizable substrates, Gram-stain positivity, and thermophilic features, the Rubrobacter species, in particular Rubrobacter xylanophilus, could be also interesting candidates for industrial production of PHA within the concept of Next-Generation Industrial Biotechnology.

Keywords: Rubrobacter spartanus; Rubrobacter xylanophilus; extremophiles; polyhydroxyalkanoates; stress conditions.