Recent Advances on Filamentous Fungal Biofilms for Industrial Uses
Industrial enzymes are produced by submerged fermentation (SF) and by solid-state fermentation (SSF) to a lesser extent. Although SSF has several advantages, its scale-up is difficult. The role of physiological and genetic properties of microorganisms growing attached to surfaces could explain the advantages of SSF. Filamentous fungi are naturally adapted to growth on surfaces and in these conditions they show a particular physiological behavior which is different from that in SF; thus, they also form biofilms. Fermentation by filamentous fungal biofilms (FFB) is a homogeneous production system within a liquid environment based on the infrastructure of the SF process with the productive efficiency of the SSF. Enzyme production levels of FFB are much higher than those obtained in SF and they are also amenable of mixed fungal cultivation. Transcriptomic and proteomic tools are used to uncover the fundamental biological issues behind FFB. Several genes encoding cellulolytic enzymes are either differentially expressed or overexpressed in FFB. Moreover, our proteomic studies of Aspergillus niger biofilms compared to SF indicate that many intracellular proteins are either differentially expressed or overexpressed. Clinically important fungi like A. fumigatus also form biofilms when they infect lungs and recent studies demonstrate same gene expression features. These results support our hypothesis of cell adhesion and its role in the new schemes for improved fermentative production of industrial enzymes.