Sophorolipids (SLs) were produced by Starmerella bombicola. The separation and purification of SLs are a complex process, since they are produced as a mixture of compounds with few structural differences. Solvent extraction is commonly used in downstream processing. In this work, an environmental friendly approach was developed for SLs recovery and purification, based on neutral polymeric sorbents, Amberlite XAD16NTM, XAD18TM, and XAD1600NTM. In batch microassays, key parameters of sorption/desorption process (e.g., contact time, temperature, sorbents, and SLs concentrations) were optimized for separation of acidic and lactonic SLs. Sorption equilibrium was reached after 2–3Â h, for all the sorbents tested. Among them XAD1600NTM showed a higher sorption capacity (qmax 230Â mgÂ g−1), a higher removal (≈100Â %) of acidic and lactonic SLs [1 and 2.5Â % (w/v)], and the best selectivity. Methanol, ethanol, and acetone were suitable for SLs elution. A selective desorption of SLs was attained with acetonitrile aqueous solutions (v/v): (1) 25Â % led to 88.3Â % of acidic SLs and (2) 55Â % followed by methanol solution (100Â %) led to 93.2Â % of purified lactonic SLs. This achievement was particularly important regarding SLs potential therapeutic applications, since acidic and lactonic SLs show different biologic activities. In fact, acid SLs show higher virucidal and pro-inflammatory cytokine activity, while lactonic SLs show stronger spermicidal and anti-cancer activity.
- Acidic and lactonic sophorolipids
- Neutral polymeric resins
- Starmerella bombicola