• On the origin of the electrostatic surface potential of Aspergillus niger spores in acidic environments.

      Wargenau, Andreas; Fleissner, André; Bolten, Christoph Josef; Rohde, Manfred; Kampen, Ingo; Kwade, Arno; Institut für Partikeltechnik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Volkmaroder Straße 5, D-38104 Braunschweig, Germany. wargenau@a-wargenau.de (2011-12)
      The electrostatic surface potential of fungal spores is generally regarded as potentially influencing spore aggregation and pellet formation in submerged cultures of filamentous fungi. Spores of Aspergillus niger are typically characterized by negative zeta potentials over a wide range of pH values. In this study, this particular behavior is ascribed to the presence of an extensive melanin coating. It is proposed on the basis of zeta potential and pigment extraction experiments that this outermost layer affects the pH-dependent surface potential in two manners: (i) by the addition of negative charges to the spore surface and (ii) by the pH-dependent release of melanin pigment. Chemical analyses revealed that deprotonation of melanin-bound carboxyl groups is most probably responsible for pigment release under acidic conditions. These findings were incorporated into a simple model which has the ability to qualitatively explain the results of zeta potential experiments and, moreover, to provide the basis for quantitative investigations on the role of electrostatics in spore aggregation.