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Rhamnolipids are biosurfactants with potential for diversified industrial and environmental uses. The present study evaluated three strategies to increase the production of rhamnolipid-type biosurfactants produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PA1. The influence of pH, the addition of endogenous autoinducers and the use of a fed batch process were examined. The culture medium adjusted to pH 7.0 was the most productive. Furthermore, the pH of the culture medium had a measurable effect on the ratio of mono- and dirhamnolipids synthesized. At pH values below 7.3, the proportion of monorhamnolipids decreased from 45 to 24%. Additionally, recycling 20% of the spent culture medium where P. aeruginosa was grown up to the later stationary phase was responsible for a 100% increase in rhamnolipid volumetric productivity in the new culture medium. Finally, the use of fed batch operation under conditions of limited nitrogen resulted in a 3.8-fold increase in the amount of rhamnolipids produced (1.29 g L-1 to 4.90 g L-1, as rhamnose). These results offer promising paths to optimize processes for the production of rhamnolipids.
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