Sophorolipid biosynthesis by Candida bombicola from industrial fatty acid residues

P. Arthur Felse, Vishal Shah, Jamie Chan, Kandula J. Rao, Richard A. Gross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Yeast Candida bombicola is known to produce sophorolipids from a variety of saccharic and lipidic feed-stocks. In the current study, the influence of fatty acid carbon chain length, unsaturation, source of low-cost industrial lipid feed-stocks, and nickel content in lipid feed-stocks on sophorolipid production by C. bombicola were investigated. Saturated and monounsaturated C18 fatty acid gave the highest levels of sophorolipid production while fatty acids with more than one site of unsaturation gave much lower yields. Sophorolipid production was reduced when shorter (≤C16) and longer (≥C20) fatty acids were fed. The possibility of exploiting low-cost industrial wastes or by-products for sophorolipid production by batch or fed-batch processes was investigated. Tallow fatty acid residue was the best lipid feed-stock for sophorolipid production (120 g/L, fed-batch cultures), while coconut fatty acid residue resulted in the lowest production (40 g/L, fed-batch cultures). Co-feeding coconut fatty acid residue with other feed-stocks improved its substrate value in batch cultures. C. bombicola was tolerant to nickel contamination of up to 112.5 mg/L during sophorolipid production. Nickel contaminated stearic fatty acid residue was transformed to value added sophorolipid product while nickel was sequestered primarily in biomass for safe removal and recovery. Sophorolipid product obtained from nickel contaminated lipid wastes had low nickel levels (<5 mg/L) that could allow its use in low-end consumer products and household applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-323
Number of pages8
JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 4 2007


  • Candida bombicola
  • Coconut fatty acid residue
  • Cosubstrate
  • Fatty acid residues
  • Nickel sequestering
  • Sophorolipids
  • Stearic fatty acid residue
  • Tallow fatty acid residue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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