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      Genetic improvement of Bacillus licheniformis strains for efficient deproteinization of shrimp shells and production of high-molecular-mass chitin and chitosan.

      Applied and Environmental Microbiology

      Animals, Bacillus, genetics, metabolism, Chitin, chemistry, isolation & purification, Chitosan, Chromatography, Gel, Genes, Bacterial, Lipids, analysis, Molecular Weight, Organisms, Genetically Modified, Penaeidae, microbiology, Polyglutamic Acid, Sequence Deletion

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          By targeted deletion of the polyglutamate operon (pga) in Bacillus licheniformis F11, a derivative form, F11.1 (Δpga), was obtained that, along with lacking polyglutamate (PGA) formation, displayed enhanced proteolytic activities. The phenotypic properties were maintained in a strain in which the chiBA operon was additionally deleted: F11.4 (ΔchiBA Δpga). These genetically modified strains, carrying the Δpga deletion either alone (F11.1) or together with the ΔchiBA (F11.4) deletion, were used in fermentations (20-liter scale) aiming at the deproteinization of shrimp shells in order to obtain long-chain chitin. After chemical deacetylation, the resulting chitosan samples were analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, and viscometry and compared to a chitosan preparation that was produced in parallel by chemical methods by a commercial chitosan supplier (GSRmbH). Though faint lipid impurities were present in the fermented polysaccharides, the viscosity of the material produced with the double-deletion mutant F11.4 (Δpga ΔchiBA) was higher than that of the chemically produced and commercially available samples (Cognis GmbH). Thus, enhanced proteolytic activities and a lack of chitinase activity render the double mutant F11.4 a powerful tool for the production of long-chain chitosan.

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