Dra. Susana Castro-Sowinski

Uso del material genético de origen antártico para el desarrollo de productos biotecnológicos

Antarctic genetic material: current and potential applications

Antarctica is a pristine place, with climatic conditions that are considered extreme for human life. These conditions include low temperatures and high exposure to UV-irradiation, among others. Microbes that thrive in this environment have developed many strategies to cope with, e.g. psychrophilic and psychro-tolerant microbes produce enzymes with high catalytic constant at low temperature (psychrophilic enzymes) compared with enzymes produced by mesophilic microbes; these enzymes show biochemical properties compatible with their use in many industrial processes. Also, Antarctica is a good place for the isolation of UV-resistance microbes that produce highly efficient mechanisms of DNA-repair. UV-irradiation induces the production of DNA-photoproducts that may halt RNA-polymerase; among the UV-resistance mechanisms, microbes produce the enzyme photolyase that directly reverses the production of photoproducts. In this scenario, our team works to answer the following questions: what potential uses psychrophilic enzymes have in the industries of detergents, nutraceuticals, and biofuels? What potential uses have the photolyases produced by the UV-resistant Antarctic microbes, with a focus on the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries? We showed that the Antarctic genetic material is an important source for the development of many biotechnological goods, such as detergents, cosmetic creams, and bioethanol, among others.