Industrial and environmental applications of halophilic microorganisms

Aharon Oren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

362 Scopus citations


In comparison with the thermophilic and the alkaliphilic extremophiles, halophilic microorganisms have as yet found relatively few biotechnological applications. Halophiles are involved in centuries-old processes such as the manufacturing of solar salt from seawater and the production of traditional fermented foods. Two biotechnological processes involving halophiles are highly successful: the production of -carotene by the green alga Dunaliella and the production of ectoine (1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid), used as a stabilizer for enzymes and now also applied in cosmetic products, from moderately halophilic bacteria. The potential use of bacteriorhodopsin, the retinal protein proton pump of Halobacterium, in optoelectronic devices and photochemical processes is being explored, and may well lead to commercial applications in the near future. Demand for salt-tolerant enzymes in current manufacturing or related processes is limited. Other possible uses of halophilic microorganisms such as treatment of saline and hypersaline wastewaters, and the production of exopolysaccharides, poly-β-hydroxyalkanoate bioplastics and biofuel are being investigated, but no large-scale applications have yet been reported.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)825-834
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • bacteriorhodopsin
  • ectoine
  • enzymes
  • halophilic
  • β-carotene


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