Single Cell Protein and its Relevance in Pharmaceutical Industry

Sujith Varma, Sijo Pattom. R. Raju

Abstract: The nutritional value of microbial material can be quite high with respect to many important factors, not the least is proteins, which represent a large proportion of the cell dry weight of most species. Microorganisms are being extensively used for the production of a wide range of proteins, enzymes, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, food supplements and steroids. The usage of microbial proteins to contribute to the world’s protein supply has been a subject for discussion and experimentation for several decades. Based on present trends United National (UN) population experts project that, there will be 8 billion people living on this planet by 2015 and 105 billion by the year 2110. This indicates that, during the 35 year period (1980-2015) we must produce as much food as we have. After the discovery of the single cell protein from Saccromyces cerevisiae and the importance gained in neutraceuticals many studies have been conducted and many more micro-organisms are being utilized for the production of single cell protein. Here we have tried to give a general review on the importance of single cell protein, their source, production, application and improvement which can be done for increasing yield by utilizing recombinant DNA technology (rDNA), Mutation etc. These methods can reduce the cost of production for the biologically active single cell protein in the treatment of various infectious diseases.

The biosphere provides us food, feed construction material and energy. Population rise is the key driving force for the development of new technologies for increasing biomass production. Since ancient time, several micro organisms have been used as a component in the diet e.g. usage of Saccromyces species as a bread leavening agent, lactobacilli for fermenting milk and cheese by Egyptians and Greeks, mushrooms and Spirulina as a source of proteins in 16th century. Presently many single cell proteins are available which is having diverse biological activities. Germans are the pioneer in the production of single cell proteins. During the world war II Germans faced the problem of supply of food in time, and a group of scientists led by Delbruck established the cultures of Saccromyces species for the production of single cell protein. The biomass obtained from Saccromyces cerevicea was utilized in the form of soups and sausages. After the international conference on microbial protein held at Massachusetts, USA in 1967, the term microbial protein was replaced by single cell protein. Since then many other microorganisms like actinomycetes, filamentous fungi and algae have been used to produce single cell proteins.


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