Isolation, characterization and application of theophylline-degrading Aspergillus fungi.

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Isolation, characterization and application of theophylline-degrading Aspergillus fungi.

Microb Cell Fact. 2020 Mar 19;19(1):72

Authors: Zhou B, Ma C, Xia T, Li X, Zheng C, Wu T, Liu X

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Caffeine, theobromine and theophylline are main purine alkaloid in tea. Theophylline is the downstream metabolite and it remains at a very low level in Camellia sinensis. In our previous study, Aspergillus sydowii could convert caffeine into theophylline in solid-state fermentation of pu-erh tea through N-demethylation. In this study, tea-derived fungi caused theophylline degradation in the solid-state fermentation. The purpose of this study is identify and isolate theophylline-degrading fungi and investigate their application in production of methylxanthines with theophylline as feedstock through microbial conversion.
RESULTS: Seven tea-derived fungi were collected and identified by ITS, β-tubulin and calmodulin gene sequences, Aspergillus ustus, Aspergillus tamarii, Aspergillus niger and A. sydowii associated with solid-state fermentation of pu-erh tea have shown ability to degrade theophylline in liquid culture. Particularly, A. ustus and A. tamarii could degrade theophylline highly significantly (p < 0.01). 1,3-dimethyluric acid, 3-methylxanthine, 3-methyluric acid, xanthine and uric acid were detected consecutively by HPLC in A. ustus and A. tamarii, respectively. The data from absolute quantification analysis suggested that 3-methylxanthine and xanthine were the main degraded metabolites in A. ustus and A. tamarii, respectively. 129.48 ± 5.81 mg/L of 3-methylxanthine and 159.11 ± 10.8 mg/L of xanthine were produced by A. ustus and A. tamarii in 300 mg/L of theophylline liquid medium, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: For the first time, we confirmed that isolated A. ustus, A. tamarii degrade theophylline through N-demethylation and oxidation. We were able to biologically produce 3-methylxanthine and xanthine efficiently from theophylline through a new microbial synthesis platform with A. ustus and A. tamarii as appropriate starter strains.

PMID: 32192512 [PubMed – in process]

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