Effect of isolation temperature on the characteristics of extracellular proteases produced by Antarctic bacteria

  • Susana C. Vazquez
  • Walter P. Mac Cormack


Protease-producing psychrotolerant bacteria were isolated from Antarctic biotopes on casein agar plates using different incubation temperatures. Most of the isolates were non-spore-forming Gram-negative motile rods with catalase activity, 30% were pigmented and none of them were glucose fermenters. All the strains were grown in liquid cultures at 20°C and protease secretion was tested using the azocasein method. Despite their capacity for production of a clear zone of hydrolysis in agar plates, some strains did not produce detectable levels of proteolytic activity in liquid cultures. The lowest apparent optimum temperature for protease activity found in culture supernatants was 40°C. Almost all the strains showed activation energy values about 10-20 kJ-mol?1 lower than that observed for a mesophilic Subtilisin. Most of the proteases showed optimal activity at neutral or alkaline pH values and developed a multiple-band profile on gelatine-SDS-PAGE. It was observed that the lower the strain isolation temperature was, the more stongly cold-adapted–in terms of optimal temperature and activation energy–were the proteases produced by them. This dependence of the characteristics of the proteases on the isolation temperature is an important factor to take into account in the design of screening programmes directed towards the isolation of psychrotolerant bacteria able to produce proteases strongly or weakly adapted to work in the cold. The Antarctic area explored proved to be a promising source of proteolytic bacteria with potential use in industrial processes to be carried out at low or moderate temperatures.


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How to Cite
Vazquez, S. C., & Mac Cormack, W. P. (2002). Effect of isolation temperature on the characteristics of extracellular proteases produced by Antarctic bacteria. Polar Research, 21(1), 63-72. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v21i1.6474
Research/review articles