Interdisciplinary UA & NAU team receives $3.3M to study biosurfactants

October 16, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: University of Arizona Communications] — BIO5 investigators at The University of Arizona and a scientist at Northern Arizona University recently received a $3.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to research four classes of unique biosurfactants. Research applications are widespread and could include bioremediation of metal and oil contaminated sites, additives to pharmaceutical preparations such as skin creams and therapeutic ointments, use as anti-microbial dispersants, and more environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning agents. The UA portion of the grant is $2.8 million. The UA and NAU scientists are characterizing the fundamental properties of these molecules and looking at ways to scale-up production and purification for commercial applications. They also seek to discover new biosurfactants from bacteria obtained from unusual or unexplored environments.

Biosurfactants are molecules produced by bacteria that reside in the region of space where two phases of matter (such as a solid and a liquid) connect. Biosurfactants are attractive, environmentally-friendly