Natural surfactin is a mixture of cyclic lipopeptides built from variants of a heptapeptide and a ß-hydroxy fatty acid. A biosurfactant-producing strain, Bacillus Sabtilis HSO121, was isolated from the production water of an oil field. The strain was able to produce eight surfactin isoforms which have been isolated by acid-precipitation followed by extraction into methanol. A novel procedure for the purification of surfactin was achieved. It consists of a solid-phase extraction on C18 gel followed by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography using Prep. HiQ sil C18W, column. The surfactin isoforms were eluted by linear acetonitrile gradient from 80-100%%. The peaks were analyzed by TLC on silica gel, and after acid hydrolysis their amino acid compositions were determined by HPLC analysis. Eight isoforms of surfactin had nearly the same amino acid composition and appeared a single spot in TLC. According to the Rf values with the amino acid composition, these peaks belong to the surfactin group of lipopeptides. Infrared analysis of the purified samples also revealed a pattern similar to that of surfactin. This is a very effective method for isolating and fractionating lipopeptides, of the same or different nature.
Keywords: Lipopeptides, Thin-Layer Chromatography, biosurfactant, lyophilization, HPLC
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