Commercial Uses of Fungal Spores

Fungal spores possess a wide range of CONSTITUTIVE ENZYMES (normally present) that may be absent from somatic cells and hyphae, or that may be produced by somatic cells only in the presence of their substrates (i.e. they may only be INDUCIBLE).
The possession of such constitutive enzymes, combined with the increase in metabolic activity that accompanies germination, has resulted in spores being used as biological catalysts in a number of commercial CHEMICAL TRANSFORMATION processes.
Examples of chemical transformations include:
  • The transformation of penicillins by spores of Fusarium moniliforme.
  • The conversion of fatty acids to methylketones by spores of Penicillium roquefortii.
Advantages:
  • Fungal spores are generally more stable than somatic cells and mycelia and can be transported more readily.
  • Spores provide homogeneous suspensions - providing reproducible conversion of the substrate.
  • Yields are usually high.
  • Undesirable by-products are rarely formed.
  • Only a very simple growth medium is usually required.
  • Emergence of the germ-tube can be inhibited without affecting efficiency of the chemical transformation - allowing a single batch of spores to be used several times.

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