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The effect of whole cell immobilisation on the biotransformation of benzonitrile and the use of direct electric current for enhanced product removal.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Roberta Mustacchi
  • Christopher J. Knowles
  • Hong Li
  • Ian Dalrymple
  • Garry Sunderland
  • Wolfgang Skibar
  • Simon A. Jackman
Journal publication date20/08/2005
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Number of pages5
Original languageEnglish


The nitrilase of Rhodococcus rhodochrous performs a one-step biotransformation of nitriles to their corresponding carboxylic acids. Application of a direct electric current moves the charged carboxylic acid towards an anode, across an anion exchange membrane, into a separate compartment. Cells encapsulated within alginate beads (2.9 mm diameter) for protection against the current biotransformed benzonitrile to benzoic acid with a 26% reduction in the biotransformation rate, from 0.054 mmol/min/g dcw with free cells to 0.040 mmol/min/g dcw with immobilised cells. When the electric current was applied, the biotransformation rate increased to 0.047 mmol/min/g dcw and product recovery increased from 19% to 79%.