Characterization of thermostable alkaline proteases from Bacillus infantis SKS1 isolated from garden soil
Characterization of thermostable alkaline proteases from Bacillus infantis SKS1 isolated from garden soil
Sandeep Kaur Saggu 0 1 2 3
Prakash Chandra Mishra 0 1 2 3
0 Funding: SKS is a UGC MANF-SRF, University Grant Commission , UGC
1 Data Availability Statement: Data are available from NCBI GenBank (accession number KR092197). The bacterial culture submitted to Microbial Culture Collection , Pune , India , Accession number MCC3035
2 Editor: Eugene A. Permyakov, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences , RUSSIAN FEDERATION
3 Department of Biotechnology, Guru Nanak Dev University , Amritsar, Punjab , India
Proteases are one of the largest groups of hydrolytic enzymes constituting about 60% of total worldwide sales of industrial enzymes due to their wide applications in detergent, leather, textile, food and pharmaceutical industry. Microbial proteases have been preferred over animal and plant proteases because of their fundamental features and ease in production. Bacillus infantis SKS1, an alkaline protease producing bacteria has been isolated from garden soil of north India and identified using morphological, biochemical and molecular methods. 16S rDNA sequence amplified using universal primers has 99% sequence identity with corresponding gene sequence of Bacillus infantis strain FM 34 and Bacillus sp. Beige. The bacterial culture and its 16S rDNA gene sequence have been deposited to Microbial Culture Collection (Pune, India) with accession number MCC 3035 and GenBank with accession number KR092197 respectively. The partially purified extract of Bacillus infantis SKS1 was thermostable and active in presence of Mg2+, acetyl acetone and laundry detergents implicating its application in industry. Production of these enzymes using this strain was maximized by optimization of various parameters including temperature, pH, media components and other growth conditions. Our results show that fructose and dextrose serve as the best carbon sources for production of these enzymes, highlighting the use of this strain for enzyme production utilizing relatively inexpensive substrates like beet molasses and corn steep liquor. Additionally, this strain showed maximum production of enzymes at 40ÊC similar to bacterial species used for commercial production of alkaline proteases. Characterization of alkaline proteases from this strain of Bacillus infantis and optimization of parameters for its production would help in understanding its industrial application and large-scale production.
Abbreviations: $, US dollar; ÊC, centigrade; rpm,
revolutions per minute; ml, millilitres; N, normal;
Enzymes are biocatalysts that play a vital role in everyday life [
]. In modern world,
ecofriendly enzymatic methods are replacing chemical processes. Proteases constitute about 60%
of the total enzyme market making them one of the most dominant hydrolytic enzymes
possessing a wide range of applications in physiological and industrial fields [2±4]. According to
Business Company Research report (BCC Jan, 2017), the worldwide market for industrial
enzymes was around $4.9 billion in 2015 and is supposed to reach around $6.3 billion by 2021
]. Proteases are the enzymes that are used in industries such as detergent, leather, waste
treatment, therapeutics, diagnostics, silk degumming, silver recovery, peptide synthesis, baking and
brewing [6±8]. In contrast to chemical treatments, protease based processes are specific in
action and eco- friendly.
Proteases are classified as exo-peptidases (aminopeptidases and carboxypeptidases) and
endo-peptidases (serine, cysteine, aspartic, metallo, threonine, glutamic endopeptidases and
asparagine peptide lyases) based on position of cleavage of peptide bonds [8±10]. Based on pH,
proteases can be classified as alkaline, neutral and acidic [
]. Alkaline proteases are quite
important in industries as they have the capability to withstand higher pH conditions [
Alkaline protease producing bacteria are ubiquitously found in natural [13±16] and,
anthropogenic man-made environment . As compared to plants and animals as a source of
], it is more propitious to use microbes because of their enormous diversity,
expeditious growth, requirement for limited space during cultivation and easy genetic
]. Bacillus is one of the most vital genera that have been used for alkaline
proteases production because of their chemoorganotrophic characteristics, tremendous growth
rates, secretion of extracellular enzyme into media and are safe to handle [
Genes coding for alkaline proteases are ubiquitously present in almost all microorganisms
but not every microbe can be used for commercial production of proteases. The
microorganisms that are capable of producing industrially suitable proteases at economical cost are used
for commercial production. Although details related to cost of industrial production or
fermentation are rarely published, it is well known that fermentation economics depends on
media and energy consumed during fermentation process. Recovery and purification of
enzymes also add to the production cost. Therefore, there is always a need to explore new
microorganisms producing novel enzymes using inexpensive fermentation processes for
economical production. The aim of our study was to search a new microorganism that is capable
of utilizing inexpensive carbon and nitrogen sources preferably waste products. This study
deals with identification and characterization of the strain Bacillus infantis SKS1 and its
alkaline protease. The activity of proteases produced by this strain was determined varying
different parameters such as pH, temperatures, metal salts, solvents and local laundry detergents.
Various physico-chemical parameters were optimized for maximum production of alkaline
protease. As per our knowledge, this is the first report of alkaline protease production of
Materials and methods
Isolation and screening of microorganism
Bacillus infantis SKS1 has been isolated from garden soil of Guru Nanak Dev University
campus, Amritsar, Punjab, India (31.634 N latitude and 74.872 E longitude). Soil was collected
by scraping the upper surface layer till 0±5 cm depth using 50 ml tube. Things like pebbles,
rocks and leaves were removed before the soil was air-dried and used further for isolation of
microbes. Screening for bacteria capable of producing alkaline protease was performed using
serial dilution method on skim milk agar plates (pH 10) incubated at 37ÊC. Bacterial colonies
forming zone of clearance on skim milk agar plates (pH 10) were isolated and purified using
streaking methods. The pure cultures were stored as glycerol stocks and maintained on
nutrient agar plates by sub-culturing every two weeks. The culture was submitted to Microbial
Culture Collection, Pune (India) with accession number MCC 3035.
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Identification of strain SKS1
Bacillus infantis SKS1 was characterized using morphological, biochemical and molecular
methods. Morphological characterization was done using stereomicroscope (Magnus, India) and
Gram staining method using brightfield microscope (Nikon H600L, Japan). The bacterial isolate
was characterized biochemically by performing carbohydrate utilization tests using HiCarbo kit
(HiMedia, India) [
]. A single isolated colony of Bacillus infantis SKS1 was inoculated in 5 ml
Brain Heart Infusion Broth (HiMedia, India) and incubated at 35±37ÊC for 4±6 hours until the
inoculum turbidity reached 0.5 OD at 620 nm. Each well was inoculated with 50 μl of the above
inoculum using surface inoculation method and incubated at 35 ± 2ÊC for 18±24 hours (Table 1).
The ability of bacteria to produce lipase, amylase, lysine decarboxylase, indole and
acetylmethylcarbinol was detected using respective media [
]. The strain was tested for antibiotic
susceptibility by disc diffusion method using antibiotic octodiscs (HiMedia, India) [
plates were prepared with Mueller Hinton Agar (HiMedia, India). A single colony was
inoculated in 5 ml Nutrient broth and incubated at 35±37ÊC for 4±8 hours until the inoculum
turbidity reached 0.2 OD at 600nm. The discs were applied aseptically using sterile forceps on
Mueller Hinton agar plates spread with 100 μl cultures. Theses plates were incubated
immediately at 35 ± 2ÊC and examined after 16±18 hours or longer for zones showing complete
inhibition. Two types of antibiotic octodiscs, G plus 17 (HiMedia, India) and G-XIV- plus
(HiMedia, India) were used for the study as per the concentration mentioned in Table 2.
16S rDNA sequence obtained by sequencing of PCR amplified product using a set of universal
bacterial primers i.e. 8F (5’-AGAGTTTGATCCTGGCTCAG-3’) and 1492R (5’-GGT
TACCTTGTTACGACTT-3’) was used for molecular characterization. 16S rDNA sequence
(sequenced by First Base Laboratories Sdn Bhd, Malaysia) was deposited in GenBank having
accession number KR092197. 16S rDNA sequence was used to search NCBI [
], Ribosomal database
] and EzTaxon [
] for homologous sequences. Phylogenetic study was done by
neighbour-joining method using Maximum Composite Likelihood as correction factor by Mega 6
software with bootstrap value of 1000 replicates [
]. Clustal W (MEGA 6) was used for alignment.
Lentibacillus was chosen as an outgroup being one of the closest members to the strains present in
ingroup. It is a member of family Bacillaceae 2 whereas other strains belong to Bacillaceae 1.
Protease activity was determined using modified Lowry method [
]. Reaction mixture
containing 2 ml buffered casein (pH 10) and 1 ml partial purified extract (PPE) was incubated
The results of carbohydrate utilization tests were interpreted according to the table provided by the manufacturer of HiCarbo kit (HiMedia, India). In case of
microorganisms showing weak reaction during carbohydrate fermentation test, the reaction was recorded as ± and incubated further for 48 hours. Orange
colour after 48 hours of incubation was interpreted as a negative reaction.
3 / 18
for 20 minutes at 40ÊC. ªCasein protein rich refinedº (Sisco Research Laboratories) at 1%
concentration was used for protease assay. The reaction was stopped by adding 3 ml of 10%
trichloroacetic acid (Sisco Research Laboratories, India) and incubated for 10 minutes at room
temperature followed by centrifugation at 10,000 rpm. 4 ml sodium carbonate (0.4M) and 500
lµ Folin phenol Ciocalteau reagent (1N) were added to 1 ml supernatant followed by
incubation for half an hour at room temperature and absorbance was measured at 660 nm. One unit
enzyme activity was defined as the amount of enzyme that is needed to release 1gµ tyrosine per
ml per minute under standard assay conditions.
Characterization of alkaline protease
Ammonium sulphate (70% ammonium sulphate) method was used for precipitation of
enzyme. Pellet obtained after precipitation was resuspended in 50 mM Tris buffer (pH 8)
which was further dialyzed with 50 mM Tris buffer (pH 8) and then used for PPE
characterization. The protein content and protease activity was determined and specific activity was
calculated as enzyme activity per mg protein.
Following buffers (0.1 M) at different pH ranging from 6 to 12 were used to determine the
effect of pH on protease activity (Table 3).
The effect of temperature on protease activity was analysed by incubating reaction mixture
containing partially purified extract (PPE) and buffered casein for an at 20ÊC, 30ÊC,40ÊC, 50ÊC,
60ÊC, 70ÊC, 80ÊC, 90ÊC and 100ÊC. The PPE was pre-incubated for an hour at 20ÊC, 30ÊC, 40ÊC,
50ÊC, 60ÊC, 70ÊC, 80ÊC, 90ÊC and 100ÊC before adding to reaction mixture to check
thermostability of enzyme. The reaction mixture containing PPE was incubated for an hour with salts of
various metal ions (Mg2+, K+, Mn2+, Li+, Fe3+, Na+, Zn2+, Ba2+ and Co2+) at 0.25% to examine
catalytic effect of metal ions on enzyme activity taking PPE alone as control. The reaction
mixture was incubated with various solvents such as acetone, acetyl acetone, methanol, isopropanol,
ethyl acetate, dodecane, hexadecane, carbon tetrachloride, N, N- dimethyl formaldehyde,
isobutanol, isoamyl alcohol, chloroform, petroleum ether, formamide, toluene and ethylene glycol at
4 / 18
0.25% concentration at 37ÊC to analyse the activity of PPE in presence of various solvents taking
PPE alone as control. Five laundry detergents (solid) such as Ariel (Procter and Gamble), Fena
(Gautum Co-operative Industrial Society Limited), Ghari (Rohit Surfactant Private Limited),
Surf Excel Matic (Hindustan Lever Limited) and Henko (Henkel Spic India Limited) at 7 mg/ml
concentration were used to study the compatibility of PPE with laundry detergents. Endogenous
proteases present in laundry detergents (solid) were inactivated by incubating them at 100ºC for
an hour and PPE alone was taken as control. Protease assay was performed with inactivated
detergents (controls) but no activity was detected in detergents with inactivated proteases.
Zymography was performed to detect activity of proteases in gel using modified protocol
followed by Bester et al [
]. The PPE (20 lµ) was separated on denaturing polyacrylamide gel
(12%) of 8.3 6.5 cm having SDS as a denaturant at 150V polymerised with and without 0.1%
casein. After electrophoresis, polyacrylamide gel polymerised without casein was stained with
Coomassie Brilliant Blue- R250 to estimate the molecular weight of the protease. The
polyacrylamide gel containing 0.1% casein was soaked in 2.5% Triton X-100 for 1 hour followed by
overnight incubation in 50 mM Tris buffer (pH 8) and then stained with Coomassie Brilliant
Effect of physico-chemical parameters on protease production
Various culture parameters for production of alkaline protease by Bacillus infantis SKS1 were
optimized. 1% casein (Sisco Laboratories Research, India) was added to 10 ml nutrient broth
no. 2 (HiMedia, India) containing meat peptone, casein enzymic hydrolysate and sodium
chloride at concentration of 4.3g/L, 4.3 g/L and 6.4g/L respectively in culture flask of 75 ml to
observe the effect of temperature, pH, agitation, inoculum size and incubation time. To
investigate effect of pH and temperature on production of alkaline protease, cells were grown in
media having pH 6, 8, 10 and 12 incubated at temperatures 30ºC, 40 ºC and 50ºC. The
optimized temperature and pH were kept constant for optimizing other parameters. The effect of
agitation for alkaline protease production was studied at 50, 100 and 150 rpm in non-baffled
flask. Keeping the above-mentioned optimized parameters constant, inoculum size varying
from 1% to 90% and incubation time varying from 3 hours to 132 hours were optimized.
Casein concentration for the production of alkaline proteases was optimized by adding casein
(Sisco Laboratories Research, India) in nutrient broth at 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 5%,
keeping other parameters constant.
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Metal salts (0.25%)
Various carbon sources (0.50%), nitrogen sources (0.50%) and metal salts (0.25%) were optimized for production of alkaline protease by Bacillus infantis
Media containing yeast extract, sodium chloride and various carbon sources at 0.5%
concentration was used to observe the effect of carbon sources on production of alkaline protease
whereas media containing yeast extract and sodium chloride at 0.5% concentration without
any carbon source was used as control. Media comprising starch, sodium chloride and various
nitrogen sources at 0.5% concentration was used to observe the effect of nitrogen sources on
production of alkaline protease whereas media containing starch and sodium chloride at 0.5%
concentration without any nitrogen source was used as control. To examine the effect of metal
salts on production of alkaline protease, different metal salts at 0.25% were added to
production media keeping production media (nutrient broth containing casein) without metal salt as
a control. Various carbon sources, nitrogen sources and metal salts as mentioned in the
following table were optimized keeping other parameter constant (Table 4).
Results are represented as mean ± standard error of three replicates. Statistical analysis was
done using Assistat software [
] by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Tukey's test
(Tukey method) is a multiple comparison test that is applicable for comparison of more than
two means [
]. This statistical test is used to determine the individual means that is
significantly different from a set of means. It is used after an Analysis of Variance, which shows the
existence of significant differences.
Morphological characterization of strain SKS1
Bacillus infantis SKS1 isolated from garden soil was capable of producing alkaline protease as
the zone of clearance was observed around colonies on skim milk agar plate (pH 10) stained
with congo red. The shape of colony of this rod shaped Gram-positive bacteria was observed
as entire, translucent, smooth and beige on nutrient clerigel plates under stereomicroscope.
This culture was submitted to MCC, Pune (India) with accession number MCC 3035.
6 / 18
Biochemical characterization of strain SKS1
Bacillus infantis SKS1 was biochemically characterized by examining the ability for
carbohydrate utilization, enzyme hydrolytic activities and production of indole, stable acids and
acetylmethylcarbinol. The capability of the strain for utilization of carbohydrates was analysed using
HiCarbo kit (Table 5). According to our results using HiCarbo kit, Bacillus sp. SKS1 was found
to utilize monosaccharides including fructose, dextrose and xylose while unable to utilize
arabinose, mannose, galactose, rhamnose and sorbose. The isolate was unable to utilize
monosaccharide derivatives except malonate, salicin and esculin available in HiCarbo kit. It was unable
to utilize trisaccharides while capable of utilizing maltose and trehalose amongst other
disaccharides and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and glycerol as per HiCarbo kit whereas
Bacillus infantis SMC 4352±1 was incapable of utilizing glycerol as reported by Ko et al. [
The strain was capable of producing amylase and lipase while incapable of producing indole,
lysine decarboxylase and acetylmethylcarbinol (Table 6).
Antibiotic susceptibility tests were performed using disc diffusion method (Table 7). The
strain was resistant to cefepime while it was sensitive to other β- lactam antibiotics that are
responsible for inhibition of cell wall synthesis such as ceftriaxone, penicillin G, augmentin
and glycopeptide antibiotics such as vancomycin [
]. The isolate was sensitive to antibiotics
inhibiting protein synthesis such as doxycycline (tetracycline), quinupristine/dalfopristin
(streptogramin), erythromycin (macrolide), fusidic acid, chloramphenicol and
aminoglycosides. The isolate was also sensitive to quinolone antibiotics such as levofloxacin, sparfloxacin
7 / 18
Various biochemical tests were performed for characterization of strain SKS1 possessing various hydrolytic activities.
and ciprofloxacin that are responsible for inhibition of bacterial topoisomerase IV and DNA
gyrase, the enzymes, which are required for DNA replication, transcription, repair and
]. Sulphonamide antibiotics such as co-trimoxazole responsible for blockage of
synthesis of nucleic acids and essential proteins were also effective against this isolate.
Molecular characterization of strain SKS1
Molecular characterization of bacteria was performed using sequence of 16S rDNA, a
conserved gene generally used for species identification. PCR amplification of 16S rDNA gene was
performed using universal primers and genomic DNA as template. The sequence of 16S
rDNA containing 1420 bp was deposited to GenBank having accession number KR092197
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/KR092197). This sequence was used to search RDP-II,
EzTaxon and NCBI database using BLASTn. BLASTn results against NCBI database showed
99% sequence identity to a sequence of Bacillus infantis strain FM 34 and Bacillus sp. Beige.
Result of RDP depicts maximum similarity to the phylum Firmicutes, class Bacilli, order
Bacillales, family Bacillaceae 1 and genus Bacillus. EzTaxon result shows 99.85% sequence identity
8 / 18
Fig 1. Morphological characterization of Bacillus sp. SKS1. (A) Clear zone surrounding colony of Bacillus sp. SKS1 showing
protease activity on skim milk agar stained with Congo red. (B) Gram staining of Bacillus sp. SKS1 showing Gram-positive rods. (C)
Entire, translucent, beige and smooth colony of Bacillus sp. SKS1. (D) The phylogenetic tree based on neighbour-joining method of
Bacillus sp. SKS1 and its homologs based on 16S rDNA sequences using Mega 6 software. Bootstrap values based on 1000
replicates are shown at branch nodes. The sequence of 16S rDNA of Lentibacillus halodurans 8±1 was used as an outgroup.
to Bacillus oceanisediminis H2 (T). Bacillus sp. SKS1 is present in a cluster with Bacillus infantis
SMC 4352±1 in the evolutionary tree formed using neighbor-joining method supported by a
bootstrap value of 1000 (Fig 1D).
Characterization of alkaline protease
Ammonium sulphate precipitation was used for partial purification of protease produced
from Bacillus infantis SKS1 (Table 8). The total activity of culture supernatant and precipitated
enzyme was 375 U and 328.5 U respectively. The specific activity of precipitated enzyme was
increased to 21.27 U/mg of total protein having a yield of 87.6% with 2.68 purification fold.
The enzyme precipitated with ammonium sulphate followed by dialysis was used to study its
Our study shows that partially purified extract (PPE) was stable up to 60ÊC (F = 11.345,
p<0.0001) when it was pre-incubated at different temperatures ranging from 20ÊC to 100ÊC
9 / 18
Partial purification of enzyme produced by Bacillus infantis SKS1 was achieved using ammonium sulphate precipitation method.
(Fig 2A). Alkaline proteases are usually stable at 50ÊC-70ÊC with an exception of Bacillus sp.
B18 having stability at a temperature of 85ÊC [
]. In our study, partially purified extract
(PPE) showed maximum activity at pH 10 (F = 13.307, p<0.0001) when reaction mixture was
incubated at pH ranging from 6 to 12 (Fig 2B).
The reaction mixture was incubated at different temperatures ranging from 20ÊC to 100ÊC
to study effect of temperature on enzyme activity (Fig 2C). Our results show that the partially
purified extract (PPE) was active at wide range of temperatures ranging from 40ÊC to 70ÊC
(Fig 2C) and showed its maximum activity at 50ÊC (F = 90.539, p<0.0001). Large amount of
detergent is needed during washing of clothes in hard water as presence of Mg2+ and Ca2+
interfere with cleaning of clothes. Our results show that Mg2+ significantly enhanced the
enzyme activity (F = 41.762, p<0.0001) suggesting suitability of partially purified extract (PPE)
containing proteases in laundry detergents for washing in hard water (Fig 2D).
Enzymatic synthesis of peptides require proteases that are stable in organic solvents [
Our study reveals that PPE of Bacillus infantis SKS1 retained enzyme activity in presence of
acetyl acetone (F = 48.748, p<0.0001) emphasizing its usage in enzymatic synthesis of peptides
in presence of solvents (Fig 2E). The activity of PPE in presence of laundry detergents (solid)
was also determined by incubating the reaction mixture with detergents of different brands for
an hour. The PPE retained 82.64%, 24.31%, 34.77%, 44.44% and 50% relative activity in
presence of Ariel, Fena, Ghari, Surf excel and Henko respectively (F = 13.571, p<0.0001) (Fig 2F).
Casein zymography is a SDS-PAGE based electrophoretic method used to detect in gel
protease activity using casein as a substrate [
]. The partially purified extract exhibiting protease
activity was separated on SDS-PAGE polymerized with casein and soaked in Triton X-100
followed by incubation in 50 mM Tris buffer (pH 8) overnight. The Coomassie Brilliant
BlueR250 stained gels showed three clear zones in casein zymogram due to casein hydrolytic
activities indicating the presence of three proteases of molecular weight of approximately 120 kDa,
66 kDa and 35 kDa. Casein zymogram using partially purified extract heated at 60ÊC was able
to show all three clear zones showing that proteases were stable at 60ÊC (Fig 3).
Effect of physico-chemical parameters on alkaline protease production
Incubation temperature and pH have profound effect on cell growth and production of
extracellular enzyme. Our study shows that the optimum production of enzymes was observed at
40ÊC and pH 10 (Fig 4A). The increase in temperature beyond 40ÊC and pH beyond 10
decreased the production of proteases. Keeping optimized pH and temperature constant, the
maximum production of alkaline proteases was observed at 100 rpm (F = 359.376, p<0.0001)
whereas 51.07% and 28.19% of maximum production was observed at 50 rpm and 150 rpm
respectively (Fig 4B). Maximum production of alkaline proteases was observed using 10%
inoculum and 1% casein in production media (Fig 4C and 4D). Since microbes secrete
extracellular enzymes during specific phase of their growth period, production was observed till 132
10 / 18
Fig 2. Characterization of alkaline protease. Effect of (A) preincubation at various temperatures (F = 11.345, p<0.0001), (B) pH
(F = 13.307, p<0.0001), (C) temperature (F = 90.359, p<0.0001), (D) metal salts (F = 41.762, p<0.0001), (E) solvents (F = 48.748,
p<0.0001), (F) laundry detergents (F = 13.571, p<0.0001) on activity of alkaline protease. Columns and error bars above column
represent Mean±SEM respectively. Different letters above the bar are statistically different whereas same letter do not differ between
them as determined by Tukey's test.
hours keeping other optimized parameters constant. The optimum time required for
production by Bacillus infantis SKS1 was 84 hours (Fig 4E) after which a slight decline in production
was observed may be due to decomposition of enzyme (F = 473.109, p<0.0001).
According to previous reports, it has been observed that carbon sources have significant
effects on protease production [
]. In case of Bacillus infantis SKS1, results show that dextrose
11 / 18
Fig 3. SDS-PAGE zymogram analysis of alkaline protease from Bacillus sp. SKS1. 12% SDS-PAGE (left)
and casein zymogram (right) of ammonium sulphate precipitate of culture supernatant obtained from Bacillus sp.
SKS1 showing three protease bands of approximately (A) 120 kDa, (B) 66 kDa and (C) 35 kDa. (Lane 1: unstained
marker, lane 2: ammonium sulphate precipitated protease, lane 3: ammonium sulphate precipitated protease
heated at 60ÊC for an hour).
and fructose were the best carbon sources for maximum production (F = 300.684, p<0.0001).
The enzyme production was increased to 98.60% and 94.55% using dextrose and fructose
respectively as a sole carbon source while glucose and xylose increased the enzyme production
to 70.98% and 48.92% respectively (Fig 4F). The use of glycerol, starch, mannitol and sorbitol
as a sole carbon source in media increased the production of alkaline protease to 37.70%,
30.97%, 37.55% and 36.41% respectively. Media containing 0.5% yeast and 0.5% sodium
chloride without carbon source was used as control. Various nitrogen sources enriched in peptides
and amino acids affect the production of alkaline protease by the microbe (Fig 4G). The
maximum production was observed using yeast extract as a nitrogen source (F = 2340.972,
p<0.0001) whereas media containing 0.5% starch and 0.5% sodium chloride without any
nitrogen source was used as control. Other organic nitrogen sources such as peptone, malt
extract and casein increased the protease production to 21.25%, 32.72% and 8.39% respectively
while very slight increase in production was observed using inorganic sources of nitrogen.
Metal salts are one of the other major factors that influence production of protease (Fig 4H).
On addition of 0.25% metal salts like calcium chloride and magnesium chloride in production
media, there was a significant increase in protease production (F = 469.588, p<0.0001).
Cesium chloride, manganese chloride and sodium chloride slightly decreased the protease
production to 48.44%, 50.61% and 44.19% of the maximum production respectively and cobaltous
chloride was observed to decline the production to 0.85%.
Microbes are important source for production of alkaline proteases, as bacterial proteases
possess most of the features required for industrial applications [
]. This study deals with
12 / 18
Fig 4. Optimization of physico-chemical parameters for production of alkaline protease. Effect of (A) temperature and pH
(F = 120.39, p<0.01), (B) agitation (F = 359.376, p<0.0001), (C) inoculum size (F = 304.37, p<0.0001), (D) casein concentration
(F = 120.898, p<0.0001), (E) incubation time (F = 473.109, p<0.0001), (F) carbon sources (F = 300.684, p<0.0001), (G) nitrogen sources
(F = 2340.972, p<0.0001) and (H) metal salts (F = 469.588, p<0.0001) on production of alkaline protease. Columns and error bars above
column represent Mean ± SEM respectively. Different letters above the bar are statistically different whereas same letter do not differ
between them as determined by Tukey's test.
isolation, identification and characterization of a bacteria isolate from garden soil of north
India that produces alkaline proteases and has 99% sequence identity with Bacillus infantis.
This is the first report of production and characterization of alkaline protease produced by any
strain of Bacillus infantis as per best of our knowledge. Biochemical characteristics of Bacillus
13 / 18
infantis SKS1 showed that it was capable of utilizing fructose, dextrose and trehalose. The
utilization of inexpensive substrates such as molasses (source of fructose and dextrose) and corn
steep liquor (source of fructose and trehalose) for production of enzymes may reduce the cost
of fermentation as 30±40% production cost depends on the media components [
This study reports characterization of PPE of Bacillus infantis SKS1 obtained through
ammonium sulphate precipitation. The PPE of Bacillus sp. SKS1 was active at pH 10 and wide
range of temperatures (40ÊC to 70ÊC) suggesting its application in industry demanding
moderate heat and alkaline conditions. Some cations are needed by detergent-compatible enzymes
to protect their active site against thermal denaturation during washing at higher temperatures
]. Our results show that the PPE of Bacillus infantis SKS1 showed increase in activity in
presence of Mg2+ whereas protease activity was decreased in presence of Ba2+, Co2+ and Zn2+.
As per previous reports, cations such as Ca2+, Mg2+, Mn2+ and Cu2+ enhance the enzyme
activity while metal ions such as Hg+ and Zn2+ are responsible to inhibit the proteolytic activity
]. The PPE was quite stable in solvent such as acetyl acetone as it retained 83% activity
suggesting its application in enzymatic synthesis of peptides in presence of organic solvents [
For an enzyme to be a good candidate for detergent preparations, it should be compatible with
chemicals and ingredients present in the laundry detergents. Several reports suggest that
enzyme produced by a strain is not compatible with all the available laundry detergents in the
market. Vaishali Choudhary reported that Aspergillus versicolor protease retained maximum
activity of 76% with Ghadi detergent and the least with Tide laundry detergent whereas
protease produced by Bacillus cereus retained more than 80% activity in presence of laundry
]. Bhosale et al reported that alkaline protease from Conidiobolus coronatus (NCL
86.8.20) was most compatible with Revel followed by Ariel and Wheel . The PPE retained
82.04% activity on incubation with laundry detergent named Ariel making it a good candidate
The protease produced by Bacillus pumilis MK6-5 [
] was active at 50ÊC-55ÊC (pH 11)
whereas Bacillus licheniformis [
] and Bacillus firmus 7728 [
] produced proteases which are
active at 37ÊC (pH 8.5) and 40ÊC (pH 9) respectively. Our results show that the PPE of Bacillus
infantis SKS1 showed its maximum activity at 50ÊC (pH 10) as it was thermostable under
alkaline conditions (Table 9).
Commercial application of an enzyme depends upon its characteristics, cost and its
availability. Large scale production of industrial enzymes require fermenter where various
parameters like media components, temperature, pH, inoculums size, agitation etc. have significant
impact on product production and cost of its operation Incubation temperature has a role in
energy metabolism, translational synthesis of proteins and it affects physical properties of cell
]. During fermentation, temperature increases with time leading to huge
amount of energy requirement for cooling of fermenter. Thus, bacteria growing at higher
temperature would be more suitable for fermentation leading to reduction in energy consumption
and cost. Our results show that the optimum incubation temperature for production of
enzymes in case of Bacillus infantis SKS1 was 40ÊC, which is similar to other microbes like
Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis PE-11 and Bacillus licheniformis KBDL4 [
]. Agitation is
another important factor that plays an important role in transfer rate of nutrients, oxygen
transfer, cell aggregate dispersion and increased aerobic metabolism of microbe [
fermentation process, energy consumed by stirrer and aerator influence the overall cost of the
enzyme production [
]. Our results show that the maximum production of enzyme was
observed at low agitation rate (i.e. 100 rpm) in case of SKS1 whereas high agitation rates (120±
250 rpm) are required for microorganisms such as Bacillus pumilis, Bacillus licheniformis and
Bacillus firmus that are used for commercial production of alkaline proteases (Table 9).
14 / 18
Optimum pH for Optimum temperature
activity for production
rate for production
Production parameters and characteristics of alkaline proteases produced by various microorganisms were compared.
Media components such as carbon sources have been important for production of alkaline
proteases as they play role in biosynthesis and energy generation. It has been reported that
xylose was the best carbon source for production of proteases from Bacillus licheniformis
] while glucose was the best carbon source for Bacillus subtilis NS [
]. In this study,
dextrose and fructose were the best carbon sources for maximum production of alkaline
protease using Bacillus infantis SKS1. Inexpensive carbon sources such as beet molasses and corn
steep liquor, which are a rich source of fructose and dextrose respectively, can be used for
large-scale production of proteases in industries. Microbes metabolize nitrogen sources to
produce peptides and amino acids for enzyme production [
]. Organic nitrogen sources result in
better production of alkaline proteases in case of SKS1 as compared to inorganic nitrogen
sources. This suggests the use of other organic inexpensive industrial by-products such as
wheat bran, peanut meal, rice bran, soybean meal etc. in solid-state fermentation as high
volumetric and concentrated product can be recovered easily in comparison to submerged
]. Moreover, the solid-state fermentation is ecofriendly due to the usage of agro
industrial residues as substrates and low waste water output [
]. Thus, solid-state
fermentation can be explored for the production of enzymes by Bacillus infantis SKS1.
Bacillus infantis SKS1 isolated from garden soil of northern region of India are Gram-positive
rods. Molecular characterization performed using 16S rDNA sequencing reveals its 99%
sequence identity with Bacillus infantis strain FM 34 and Bacillus sp. Beige. The PPE of this
isolate was active over wide range of temperatures under alkaline conditions. The thermostability
and retention of protease activity in presence of acetyl acetone and local laundry detergent
may result its utilization in industrial processes. Various parameters for production of alkaline
proteases from Bacillus infantis SKS1 were optimized so that large-scale production of enzyme
can be achieved in future.
15 / 18
We would like to acknowledge Dr Rachna Hora, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular
Biology and Biochemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, India for reading
Conceptualization: Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Data curation: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Formal analysis: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Funding acquisition: Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Investigation: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Methodology: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Project administration: Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Resources: Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Software: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Supervision: Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Validation: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Visualization: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Writing ± original draft: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
Writing ± review & editing: Sandeep Kaur Saggu, Prakash Chandra Mishra.
16 / 18
17 / 18
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