In terms of evolution, lipophilism can be regarded as fine-tuning the metabolism to lipophilic habitats. Some bacteria do not only accelerate their metabolism using lipids prevailing in their environment, some of them cannot proliferate without external lipid supply. For example, some Corynebacteria, such as Corynebacterium uropygiale, lost their ability to produce certain fatty acids by themselves. On the one hand, this renders the bacteria vulnerable to environmental changes. On the other hand, energy can be saved as there is no need to put effort into lipid synthesis.
Most materials in laboratories and health-care centers have small amounts of lipids on their surface, and thus may support the proliferation of lipophilic bacteria. However, since they are not pathogenic, this is not a serious threat.
Many lipophilic bacteria are a good source of biosurfactants, hence are used commercially, e.g. Bacillus licheniformis. These kinds of bacteria produce biosurfactants which replace chemically produced surfactants. Biosurfactans are degradable unlike the chemical ones.
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