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Open Access Research article

Purification and characterization of an extracellular esterase with organic solvent tolerance from a halotolerant isolate, Salimicrobium sp. LY19

Li Xin* and Yu Hui-Ying

Author Affiliations

Life Science College, Yuncheng University, 333 Hedong East Street, Yuncheng 044000, China

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BMC Biotechnology 2013, 13:108  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-13-108

Published: 10 December 2013



Halotolerant bacteria are excellent sources for selecting novel enzymes. Being intrinsically stable and active under high salinities, enzymes from these prokaryotes have evolved to function optimally under extreme conditions, making them robust biocatalysts with potential applications in harsh industrial processes.


A halotolerant strain LY19 showing lipolytic activity was isolated from saline soil of Yuncheng Salt Lake, China. It was identified as belonging to the genus of Salimicrobium by 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. The extracellular enzyme was purified to homogeneity with molecular mass of 57 kDa by SDS-PAGE. Substrate specificity test revealed that the enzyme preferred short-chain p-nitrophenyl esters and exhibited maximum activity towards p-nitrophenyl butyrate (p-NPB), indicating an esterase activity. The esterase was highly active and stable over broad temperature (20°C-70°C), pH (7.0-10.0) and NaCl concentration (2.5%-25%) ranges, with an optimum at 50°C, pH 7.0 and 5% NaCl. Significant inhibition of the esterase was shown by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) and phenylarsine oxide (PAO), which indicated that it was a metalloenzyme with serine and cysteine residues essential for enzyme activity. Moreover, the esterase displayed high activity and stability in the presence of hydrophobic organic solvents with log Pow ≥ 0.88 than in the absence of an organic solvent or in the presence of hydrophilic solvents.


Results from the present study indicated the novel extracellular esterase from Salimicrobium sp. LY19 exhibited thermostable, alkali-stable, halotolerant and organic solvent-tolerant properties. These features led us to conclude that the esterase may have considerable potential for industrial applications in organic synthesis reactions.

Halotolerant; Esterase; Purification; Salimicrobium; Organic solvent tolerance