Ionophores are vast lipophilic materials proficient of reacting in exact proportion with metal ions (Ca2+, K+, H+, Na+), thereby functioning as a medium through which these ions can be transferred within a bimolecular lipid membrane. They are carboxylic polyether antibiotics, they are toxic to bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and higher organism and therefore fit into the category of antimicrobial compounds. They interrupt the ion concentration gradient among microorganisms, this causes them to come into a futile ion cycle. The interruption of the ion concentration inhibits the microorganism from maintaining regular metabolism and causes the microorganism to utilize extra energy. These antimicrobial compounds are used to improve the feed efficiency of ruminant animals and help to reduce the amount of excreta and gaseous emissions from animals
Detection and quantification of Ionophores in feeds, animal tissues and farm products are carried out in the laboratory using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection or UV detection (most commonly used technique), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) – this technique is useful when dealing with complicated biological matrices.
Ionophores are produced by various strains of Streptomyces and include monensin, lasalocid, laidlomycin propionate, salinomycin, and narasin. They can be synthesized in the laboratory and are commercially available as Rumensin (monensin), Bovatec (lasalocid), and Cattlyst (laidlomycin propionate).
Fermentek is a leading company in the biotechnology field. They have their focus on the development and manufacture of biologically active products isolated from nonpathogenic microorganisms (actinomycetes, Nocardia and Streptomycetes) and Fungi (Penicillium, Aspergillus, Fusarium) that are not found in human. They are expert in the production of customized, quality and high purity Ionophores for research purposes at an affordable price. More than twenty types of Ionophores are developed and produced in this company. They are available in different molecular formula and are produced from different sources which make them uniquely fit into different areas of research. To mention few, some of the Ionophores produced by Fermentek with their sources include Alamethicin (Trichoderma viride), Apicidin (Fusarium sp.), Beauvericin (Beauveria bassiana), Nonactin (Streptomyces griseus var griseus), Valinomycin (Streptomyces fulvissimus), Ionomycin free acid (Streptomyces conglobatus), e.t.c.