Open Access Research article

Purification and characterization of a surfactin-like molecule produced by Bacillus sp. H2O-1 and its antagonistic effect against sulfate reducing bacteria

Elisa Korenblum1, Livia Vieira de Araujo2, Carolina Reis Guimarães2, Lauro M de Souza3, Guilherme Sassaki3, Fernanda Abreu1, Márcia Nitschke4, Ulysses Lins1, Denise Maria Guimarães Freire2, Eliana Barreto-Bergter1 and Lucy Seldin15*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de Góes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

2 Instituto de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

3 Departamento de Bioquímica, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil

4 Instituto de Química de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

5 Laboratório de Genética Microbiana, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco I, Ilha do Fundão, CEP 21941-590, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:252  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-252

Published: 7 November 2012



Bacillus sp. H2O-1, isolated from the connate water of a Brazilian reservoir, produces an antimicrobial substance (denoted as AMS H2O-1) that is active against sulfate reducing bacteria, which are the major bacterial group responsible for biogenic souring and biocorrosion in petroleum reservoirs. Thus, the use of AMS H2O-1 for sulfate reducing bacteria control in the petroleum industry is a promising alternative to chemical biocides. However, prior to the large-scale production of AMS H2O-1 for industrial applications, its chemical structure must be elucidated. This study also analyzed the changes in the wetting properties of different surfaces conditioned with AMS H2O-1 and demonstrated the effect of AMS H2O-1 on sulfate reducing bacteria cells.


A lipopeptide mixture from AMS H2O-1 was partially purified on a silica gel column and identified via mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). It comprises four major components that range in size from 1007 to 1049 Da. The lipid moiety contains linear and branched β-hydroxy fatty acids that range in length from C13 to C16. The peptide moiety contains seven amino acids identified as Glu-Leu-Leu-Val-Asp-Leu-Leu.

Transmission electron microscopy revealed cell membrane alteration of sulfate reducing bacteria after AMS H2O-1 treatment at the minimum inhibitory concentration (5 μg/ml). Cytoplasmic electron dense inclusions were observed in treated cells but not in untreated cells. AMS H2O-1 enhanced the osmosis of sulfate reducing bacteria cells and caused the leakage of the intracellular contents. In addition, contact angle measurements indicated that different surfaces conditioned by AMS H2O-1 were less hydrophobic and more electron-donor than untreated surfaces.


AMS H2O-1 is a mixture of four surfactin-like homologues, and its biocidal activity and surfactant properties suggest that this compound may be a good candidate for sulfate reducing bacteria control. Thus, it is a potential alternative to the chemical biocides or surface coating agents currently used to prevent SRB growth in petroleum industries.

Antimicrobial substance; Surfactin-like lipopeptide; Bacillus sp.; Sulfate reducing bacteria