Very few cultivated microorganisms can degrade lignocellulosic biomass without chemical pretreatment. We show here that “Anaerocellum thermophilum” DSM 6725, an anaerobic bacterium that grows optimally at 75°C, efficiently utilizes various types of untreated plant biomass, as well as crystalline cellulose and xylan. These include hardwoods such as poplar, low-lignin grasses such as napier and Bermuda grasses, and high-lignin grasses such as switchgrass. The organism did not utilize only the soluble fraction of the untreated biomass, since insoluble plant biomass (as well as cellulose and xylan) obtained after washing at 75°C for 18 h also served as a growth substrate. The predominant end products from all growth substrates were hydrogen, acetate, and lactate. Glucose and cellobiose (on crystalline cellulose) and xylose and xylobiose (on xylan) also accumulated in the growth media during growth on the defined substrates but not during growth on the plant biomass. A. thermophilum DSM 6725 grew well on first- and second-spent biomass derived from poplar and switchgrass, where spent biomass is defined as the insoluble growth substrate recovered after the organism has reached late stationary phase. No evidence was found for the direct attachment of A. thermophilum DSM 6725 to the plant biomass. This organism differs from the closely related strain A. thermophilum Z-1320 in its ability to grow on xylose and pectin. Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus DSM 8903 (optimum growth temperature, 70°C), a close relative of A. thermophilum DSM 6725, grew well on switchgrass but not on poplar, indicating a significant difference in the biomass-degrading abilities of these two otherwise very similar organisms.
Caldicellulosiruptor bescii DSM 6725 utilizes various polysaccharides and grows efficiently on untreated high-lignin grasses and hardwood at an optimum temperature of ∼80°C. It is a promising anaerobic bacterium for studying high-temperature biomass conversion. Its genome contains 2666 protein-coding sequences organized into 1209 operons. Expression of 2196 genes (83%) was confirmed experimentally. At least 322 genes appear to have been obtained by lateral gene transfer (LGT). Putative functions were assigned to 364 conserved/hypothetical protein (C/HP) genes. The genome contains 171 and 88 genes related to carbohydrate transport and utilization, respectively. Growth on cellulose led to the up-regulation of 32 carbohydrate-active (CAZy), 61 sugar transport, 25 transcription factor and 234 C/HP genes. Some C/HPs were overproduced on cellulose or xylan, suggesting their involvement in polysaccharide conversion. A unique feature of the genome is enrichment with genes encoding multi-modular, multi-functional CAZy proteins organized into one large cluster, the products of which are proposed to act synergistically on different components of plant cell walls and to aid the ability of C. bescii to convert plant biomass. The high duplication of CAZy domains coupled with the ability to acquire foreign genes by LGT may have allowed the bacterium to rapidly adapt to changing plant biomass-rich environments.
Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol using thermophilic bacteria provides a promising solution for efficient lignocellulose conversion without the need for additional cellulolytic enzymes. Most studies on the thermophilic CBP concentrate on co-cultivation of the thermophilic cellulolytic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum with non-cellulolytic thermophilic anaerobes at temperatures of 55°C-60°C.
We have specifically screened for cellulolytic bacteria growing at temperatures >70°C to enable direct conversion of lignocellulosic materials into ethanol. Seven new strains of extremely thermophilic anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor and eight new strains of extremely thermophilic xylanolytic/saccharolytic bacteria of the genus Thermoanaerobacter isolated from environmental samples exhibited fast growth at 72°C, extensive lignocellulose degradation and high yield ethanol production on cellulose and pretreated lignocellulosic biomass. Monocultures of Caldicellulosiruptor strains degraded up to 89-97% of the cellulose and hemicellulose polymers in pretreated biomass and produced up to 72 mM ethanol on cellulose without addition of exogenous enzymes. In dual co-cultures of Caldicellulosiruptor strains with Thermoanaerobacter strains the ethanol concentrations rose 2- to 8.2-fold compared to cellulolytic monocultures. A co-culture of Caldicellulosiruptor DIB 087C and Thermoanaerobacter DIB 097X was particularly effective in the conversion of cellulose to ethanol, ethanol comprising 34.8 mol% of the total organic products. In contrast, a co-culture of Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus DSM 8903 and Thermoanaerobacter mathranii subsp. mathranii DSM 11426 produced only low amounts of ethanol.
The newly discovered Caldicellulosiruptor sp. strain DIB 004C was capable of producing unexpectedly large amounts of ethanol from lignocellulose in fermentors. The established co-cultures of new Caldicellulosiruptor strains with new Thermoanaerobacter strains underline the importance of using specific strain combinations for high ethanol yields. These co-cultures provide an efficient CBP pathway for ethanol production and represent an ideal starting point for development of a highly integrated commercial ethanol production process.
Anaerobic; Caldicellulosiruptor; Consolidated bioprocessing; Ethanol; Extremely thermophilic bacteria; High temperature; Lactate; Lignocellulose; Thermoanaerobacter
Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus is an extremely thermophilic, gram-positive anaerobe which ferments cellulose-, hemicellulose- and pectin-containing biomass to acetate, CO2, and hydrogen. Its broad substrate range, high hydrogen-producing capacity, and ability to coutilize glucose and xylose make this bacterium an attractive candidate for microbial bioenergy production. Here, the complete genome sequence of C. saccharolyticus, consisting of a 2,970,275-bp circular chromosome encoding 2,679 predicted proteins, is described. Analysis of the genome revealed that C. saccharolyticus has an extensive polysaccharide-hydrolyzing capacity for cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and starch, coupled to a large number of ABC transporters for monomeric and oligomeric sugar uptake. The components of the Embden-Meyerhof and nonoxidative pentose phosphate pathways are all present; however, there is no evidence that an Entner-Doudoroff pathway is present. Catabolic pathways for a range of sugars, including rhamnose, fucose, arabinose, glucuronate, fructose, and galactose, were identified. These pathways lead to the production of NADH and reduced ferredoxin. NADH and reduced ferredoxin are subsequently used by two distinct hydrogenases to generate hydrogen. Whole-genome transcriptome analysis revealed that there is significant upregulation of the glycolytic pathway and an ABC-type sugar transporter during growth on glucose and xylose, indicating that C. saccharolyticus coferments these sugars unimpeded by glucose-based catabolite repression. The capacity to simultaneously process and utilize a range of carbohydrates associated with biomass feedstocks is a highly desirable feature of this lignocellulose-utilizing, biofuel-producing bacterium.
Extremely thermophilic bacteria of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor utilize carbohydrate components of plant cell walls, including cellulose and hemicellulose, facilitated by a diverse set of glycoside hydrolases (GHs). From a biofuel perspective, this capability is crucial for deconstruction of plant biomass into fermentable sugars. While all species from the genus grow on xylan and acid-pretreated switchgrass, growth on crystalline cellulose is variable. The basis for this variability was examined using microbiological, genomic, and proteomic analyses of eight globally diverse Caldicellulosiruptor species. The open Caldicellulosiruptor pangenome (4,009 open reading frames [ORFs]) encodes 106 GHs, representing 43 GH families, but only 26 GHs from 17 families are included in the core (noncellulosic) genome (1,543 ORFs). Differentiating the strongly cellulolytic Caldicellulosiruptor species from the others is a specific genomic locus that encodes multidomain cellulases from GH families 9 and 48, which are associated with cellulose-binding modules. This locus also encodes a novel adhesin associated with type IV pili, which was identified in the exoproteome bound to crystalline cellulose. Taking into account the core genomes, pangenomes, and individual genomes, the ancestral Caldicellulosiruptor was likely cellulolytic and evolved, in some cases, into species that lost the ability to degrade crystalline cellulose while maintaining the capacity to hydrolyze amorphous cellulose and hemicellulose.
The genus Caldicellulosiruptor contains the most thermophilic, plant biomass-degrading bacteria isolated to date. Previously, genome sequences from three cellulolytic members of this genus were reported (C. saccharolyticus, C. bescii, and C. obsidiansis). To further explore the physiological and biochemical basis for polysaccharide degradation within this genus, five additional genomes were sequenced: C. hydrothermalis, C. kristjanssonii, C. kronotskyensis, C. lactoaceticus, and C. owensensis. Taken together, the seven completed and one draft-phase Caldicellulosiruptor genomes suggest that, while central metabolism is highly conserved, significant differences in glycoside hydrolase inventories and numbers of carbohydrate transporters exist, a finding which likely relates to variability observed in plant biomass degradation capacity.
Microbial degradation of plant cell walls and its conversion to sugars and other byproducts is a key step in the carbon cycle on Earth. In order to process heterogeneous plant-derived biomass, specialized anaerobic bacteria use an elaborate multi-enzyme cellulosome complex to synergistically deconstruct cellulosic substrates. The cellulosome was first discovered in the cellulolytic thermophile, Clostridium thermocellum, and much of our knowledge of this intriguing type of protein composite is based on the cellulosome of this environmentally and biotechnologically important bacterium. The recently sequenced genome of the cellulolytic mesophile, Acetivibrio cellulolyticus, allows detailed comparison of the cellulosomes of these two select cellulosome-producing bacteria.
Comprehensive analysis of the A. cellulolyticus draft genome sequence revealed a very sophisticated cellulosome system. Compared to C. thermocellum, the cellulosomal architecture of A. cellulolyticus is much more extensive, whereby the genome encodes for twice the number of cohesin- and dockerin-containing proteins. The A. cellulolyticus genome has thus evolved an inflated number of 143 dockerin-containing genes, coding for multimodular proteins with distinctive catalytic and carbohydrate-binding modules that play critical roles in biomass degradation. Additionally, 41 putative cohesin modules distributed in 16 different scaffoldin proteins were identified in the genome, representing a broader diversity and modularity than those of Clostridium thermocellum. Although many of the A. cellulolyticus scaffoldins appear in unconventional modular combinations, elements of the basic structural scaffoldins are maintained in both species. In addition, both species exhibit similarly elaborate cell-anchoring and cellulosome-related gene- regulatory elements.
This work portrays a particularly intricate, cell-surface cellulosome system in A. cellulolyticus and provides a blueprint for examining the specific roles of the various cellulosomal components in the degradation of complex carbohydrate substrates of the plant cell wall by the bacterium.
Cellulosomics; Clostridium thermocellum; Scaffoldin; Cohesin; Dockerin
Thermophilic microorganisms capable of using complex substrates offer special advantages for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels and bioproducts. Members of the Gram-positive bacterial genus Caldicellulosiruptor are anaerobic thermophiles with optimum growth temperatures between 65°C and 78°C and are the most thermophilic cellulolytic organisms known. In fact, they efficiently use biomass non-pretreated as their sole carbon source and in successive rounds of application digest 70% of total switchgrass substrate. The ability to genetically manipulate these organisms is a prerequisite to engineering them for use in conversion of these complex substrates to products of interest as well as identifying gene products critical for their ability to utilize non-pretreated biomass. Here, we report the first example of DNA transformation of a member of this genus, C. bescii. We show that restriction of DNA is a major barrier to transformation (in this case apparently absolute) and that methylation with an endogenous unique α-class N4-Cytosine methyltransferase is required for transformation of DNA isolated from E. coli. The use of modified DNA leads to the development of an efficient and reproducible method for DNA transformation and the combined frequencies of transformation and recombination allow marker replacement between non-replicating plasmids and chromosomal genes providing the basis for rapid and efficient methods of genetic manipulation.
Recombinant plasmids containing fusion proteins composed of two different modules were constructed and expressed in Escherichia coli. The modules encoded the lactase LacA (LacZ) from the thermophilic bacterium Thermoanaerobacter ethanolicus and the cellulase CelD, a cellulose-binding module (CBM) from Anaerocellum thermophilum. The CelD CBM provides a spontaneous and strong sorption of the fusion proteins onto a cellulose carrier. The enzymatic activities of both the free LacA protein and LacA-CelD CBM fusion proteins immobilized onto the cellulose carrier were assessed. The LacA activity of the fusion protein was dependent upon its position with respect to the CBM. The highest level of lactase activity and stability was observed when the lactase domain was localized at its N terminus. A continuous-flow column reactor of lactase immobilized on a cellulose carrier was constructed, and its activity was assessed. The lactose hydrolysis rate for a 150 mM (5%) solution at a flow rate of 1 reactor volume per min was 75%, which is a value optimal for further whey transformation into glucose/galactose syrup.
Microbial glycoside hydrolases play a dominant role in the biochemical conversion of cellulosic biomass to high-value biofuels. Anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria are capable of producing multicomplex catalytic subunits containing cell-adherent cellulases, hemicellulases, xylanases, and other glycoside hydrolases to facilitate the degradation of highly recalcitrant cellulose and other related plant cell wall polysaccharides. Clostridium thermocellum is a cellulosome producing bacterium that couples rapid reproduction rates to highly efficient degradation of crystalline cellulose. Herein, we have developed and applied a suite of difluoromethylphenyl aglycone, N-halogenated glycosylamine, and 2-deoxy-2-fluoroglycoside activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) probes to the direct labeling of the C. thermocellum cellulosomal secretome. These activity-based probes (ABPs) were synthesized with alkynes to harness the utility and multimodal possibilities of click chemistry, and to increase enzyme active site inclusion for LC-MS analysis. We directly analyzed ABP-labeled and unlabeled global MS data, revealing ABP selectivity for glycoside hydrolase (GH) enzymes, in addition to a large collection of integral cellulosome-containing proteins. By identifying reactivity and selectivity profiles for each ABP, we demonstrate our ability to widely profile the functional cellulose degrading machinery of the bacterium. Derivatization of the ABPs, including reactive groups, acetylation of the glycoside binding groups, and mono- and disaccharide binding groups, resulted in considerable variability in protein labeling. Our probe suite is applicable to aerobic and anaerobic microbial cellulose degrading systems, and facilitates a greater understanding of the organismal role associated with biofuel development.
Coutilization of hexoses and pentoses derived from lignocellulose is an attractive trait in microorganisms considered for consolidated biomass processing to biofuels. This issue was examined for the H2-producing, extremely thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus growing on individual monosaccharides (arabinose, fructose, galactose, glucose, mannose, and xylose), mixtures of these sugars, as well as on xylan and xylogluco-oligosacchrides. C. saccharolyticus grew at approximately the same rate (td, ∼95 min) and to the same final cell density (1 × 108 to 3 × 108 cells/ml) on all sugars and sugar mixtures tested. In the monosaccharide mixture, although simultaneous consumption of all monosaccharides was observed, not all were utilized to the same extent (fructose > xylose/arabinose > mannose/glucose/galactose). Transcriptome contrasts for monosaccharide growth revealed minimal changes in some cases (e.g., 32 open reading frames [ORFs] changed ≥2-fold for glucose versus galactose), while substantial changes occurred for cases involving mannose (e.g., 353 ORFs changed ≥2-fold for glucose versus mannose). Evidence for catabolite repression was not noted for either growth on multisugar mixtures or the corresponding transcriptomes. Based on the whole-genome transcriptional response analysis and comparative genomics, carbohydrate specificities for transport systems could be proposed for most of the 24 putative carbohydrate ATP-binding cassette transporters and single phosphotransferase system identified in C. saccharolyticus. Although most transporter genes responded to individual monosaccharides and polysaccharides, the genes Csac_0692 to Csac_0694 were upregulated only in the monosaccharide mixture. The results presented here affirm the broad growth substrate preferences of C. saccharolyticus on carbohydrates representative of lignocellulosic biomass and suggest that this bacterium holds promise for biofuel applications.
Clostridium thermocellum is an anaerobic thermophilic bacterium that grows efficiently on cellulosic biomass. This bacterium produces and secretes a highly active multienzyme complex, the cellulosome, that mediates the cell attachment to and hydrolysis of the crystalline cellulosic substrate. C. thermocellum can efficiently utilize only β-1,3 and β-1,4 glucans and prefers long cellodextrins. Since the bacterium can also produce ethanol, it is considered an attractive candidate for a consolidated fermentation process in which cellulose hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation occur in a single process. In this study, we have identified and characterized five sugar ABC transporter systems in C. thermocellum. The putative transporters were identified by sequence homology of the putative solute-binding lipoprotein to known sugar-binding proteins. Each of these systems is transcribed from a gene cluster, which includes an extracellular solute-binding protein, one or two integral membrane proteins, and, in most cases, an ATP-binding protein. The genes of the five solute-binding proteins were cloned, fused to His tags, overexpressed, and purified, and their abilities to interact with different sugars was examined by isothermal titration calorimetry. Three of the sugar-binding lipoproteins (CbpB to -D) interacted with different lengths of cellodextrins (G2 to G5), with disassociation constants in the micromolar range. One protein, CbpA, binds only cellotriose (G3), while another protein, Lbp (laminaribiose-binding protein) interacts with laminaribiose. The sugar specificity of the different binding lipoproteins is consistent with the observed substrate preference of C. thermocellum, in which cellodextrins (G3 to G5) are assimilated faster than cellobiose.
An industrially robust microorganism that can efficiently degrade and convert lignocellulosic biomass into ethanol and next-generation fuels is required to economically produce future sustainable liquid transportation fuels. The anaerobic, thermophilic, cellulolytic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate microorganism for such conversions but it, like many bacteria, is sensitive to potential toxic inhibitors developed in the liquid hydrolysate produced during biomass processing. Microbial processes leading to tolerance of these inhibitory compounds found in the pretreated biomass hydrolysate are likely complex and involve multiple genes.
In this study, we developed a 17.5% v/v Populus hydrolysate tolerant mutant strain of C. thermocellum by directed evolution. The genome of the wild type strain, six intermediate population samples and seven single colony isolates were sequenced to elucidate the mechanism of tolerance. Analysis of the 224 putative mutations revealed 73 high confidence mutations. A longitudinal analysis of the intermediate population samples, a pan-genomic analysis of the isolates, and a hotspot analysis revealed 24 core genes common to all seven isolates and 8 hotspots. Genetic mutations were matched with the observed phenotype through comparison of RNA expression levels during fermentation by the wild type strain and mutant isolate 6 in various concentrations of Populus hydrolysate (0%, 10%, and 17.5% v/v).
The findings suggest that there are multiple mutations responsible for the Populus hydrolysate tolerant phenotype resulting in several simultaneous mechanisms of action, including increases in cellular repair, and altered energy metabolism. To date, this study provides the most comprehensive elucidation of the mechanism of tolerance to a pretreated biomass hydrolysate by C. thermocellum. These findings make important contributions to the development of industrially robust strains of consolidated bioprocessing microorganisms.
Biomass conversion to ethanol as a liquid fuel by the thermophilic and anaerobic clostridia offers a potential partial solution to the problem of the world's dependence on petroleum for energy. Coculture of a cellulolytic strain and a saccharolytic strain of Clostridium on agricultural resources, as well as on urban and industrial cellulosic wastes, is a promising approach to an alternate energy source from an economic viewpoint. This review discusses the need for such a process, the cellulases of clostridia, their presence in extracellular complexes or organelles (the cellulosomes), the binding of the cellulosomes to cellulose and to the cell surface, cellulase genetics, regulation of their synthesis, cocultures, ethanol tolerance, and metabolic pathway engineering for maximizing ethanol yield.
Streptomyces are best known for producing antimicrobial secondary metabolites, but they are also recognized for their contributions to biomass utilization. Despite their importance to carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, our understanding of the cellulolytic ability of Streptomyces is currently limited to a few soil-isolates. Here, we demonstrate the biomass-deconstructing capability of Streptomyces sp. SirexAA-E (ActE), an aerobic bacterium associated with the invasive pine-boring woodwasp Sirex noctilio. When grown on plant biomass, ActE secretes a suite of enzymes including endo- and exo-cellulases, CBM33 polysaccharide-monooxygenases, and hemicellulases. Genome-wide transcriptomic and proteomic analyses, and biochemical assays have revealed the key enzymes used to deconstruct crystalline cellulose, other pure polysaccharides, and biomass. The mixture of enzymes obtained from growth on biomass has biomass-degrading activity comparable to a cellulolytic enzyme cocktail from the fungus Trichoderma reesei, and thus provides a compelling example of high cellulolytic capacity in an aerobic bacterium.
Ruminococcus flavefaciens is a predominant cellulolytic rumen bacterium, which forms a multi-enzyme cellulosome complex that could play an integral role in the ability of this bacterium to degrade plant cell wall polysaccharides. Identifying the major enzyme types involved in plant cell wall degradation is essential for gaining a better understanding of the cellulolytic capabilities of this organism as well as highlighting potential enzymes for application in improvement of livestock nutrition and for conversion of cellulosic biomass to liquid fuels.
The R. flavefaciens FD-1 genome was sequenced to 29x-coverage, based on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis estimates (4.4 Mb), and assembled into 119 contigs providing 4,576,399 bp of unique sequence. As much as 87.1% of the genome encodes ORFs, tRNA, rRNAs, or repeats. The GC content was calculated at 45%. A total of 4,339 ORFs was detected with an average gene length of 918 bp. The cellulosome model for R. flavefaciens was further refined by sequence analysis, with at least 225 dockerin-containing ORFs, including previously characterized cohesin-containing scaffoldin molecules. These dockerin-containing ORFs encode a variety of catalytic modules including glycoside hydrolases (GHs), polysaccharide lyases, and carbohydrate esterases. Additionally, 56 ORFs encode proteins that contain carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs). Functional microarray analysis of the genome revealed that 56 of the cellulosome-associated ORFs were up-regulated, 14 were down-regulated, 135 were unaffected, when R. flavefaciens FD-1 was grown on cellulose versus cellobiose. Three multi-modular xylanases (ORF01222, ORF03896, and ORF01315) exhibited the highest levels of up-regulation.
The genomic evidence indicates that R. flavefaciens FD-1 has the largest known number of fiber-degrading enzymes likely to be arranged in a cellulosome architecture. Functional analysis of the genome has revealed that the growth substrate drives expression of enzymes predicted to be involved in carbohydrate metabolism as well as expression and assembly of key cellulosomal enzyme components.
Mixed culture enrichments have been used frequently for biohydrogen production from different feedstock. In spite of the several advantages offered by those cultures, they suffer poor H2 yield. Constructing defined co-cultures of known H2 producers may offer a better performance than mixed-population enrichments, while overcoming some of the limitations of pure cultures based on synergies among the microorganisms involved.
The extreme thermophiles Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus DSM 8903 and C. kristjanssonii DSM 12137 were combined in a co-culture for H2 production from glucose and xylose in a continuous-flow stirred tank reactor. The co-culture exhibited a remarkable stability over a period of 70 days under carbon-sufficient conditions, with both strains coexisting in the system at steady states of different dilution rates, as revealed by species-specific quantitative PCR assays. The two strains retained their ability to stably coexist in the reactor even when glucose was used as the sole growth-limiting substrate. Furthermore, H2 yields on glucose exceeded those of either organism alone under the same conditions, alluding to a synergistic effect of the two strains on H2 production. A maximum H2 yield of 3.7 mol (mol glucose)-1 was obtained by the co-culture at a dilution rate of 0.06 h-1; a higher yield than that reported for any mixed culture to date. A reproducible pattern of population dynamics was observed in the co-culture under both carbon and non-carbon limited conditions, with C. kristjanssonii outgrowing C. saccharolyticus during the batch start-up phase and prevailing at higher dilution rates. A basic continuous culture model assuming the ability of C. saccharolyticus to enhance the growth of C. kristjanssonii could mimic the pattern of population dynamics observed experimentally and provide clues to the nature of interaction between the two strains. As a proof, the cell-free growth supernatant of C. saccharolyticus was found able to enhance the growth of C. kristjanssonii in batch culture through shortening its lag phase and increasing its maximum biomass concentration by ca. 18%.
This study provides experimental evidence on the stable coexistence of two closely related organisms isolated from geographically-distant habitats under continuous operation conditions, with the production of H2 at high yields. An interspecies interaction is proposed as the reason behind the remarkable ability of the two Caldicellulosiruptor strains to coexist in the system rather than only competing for the growth-limiting substrate.
The extremely thermophilic, Gram-positive bacteria Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis efficiently degrade both cellulose and hemicellulose, which makes them relevant models for lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction to produce sustainable biofuels. To identify the shared and unique features of secreted cellulolytic apparatuses from C. bescii and C. obsidiansis, label-free quantitative proteomics was used to analyze protein abundance over the course of fermentative growth on crystalline cellulose. Both organisms' secretomes consisted of more than 400 proteins, of which the most abundant were multidomain glycosidases, extracellular solute-binding proteins, flagellin, putative pectate lyases, and uncharacterized proteins with predicted secretion signals. Among the identified proteins, 53 to 57 significantly changed in abundance during cellulose fermentation in favor of glycosidases and extracellular binding proteins. Mass spectrometric characterizations, together with cellulase activity measurements, revealed a substantial abundance increase of a few bifunctional multidomain glycosidases composed of glycosidase (GH) domain family 5, 9, 10, 44, or 48 and family 3 carbohydrate binding (CBM3) modules. In addition to their orthologous cellulases, the organisms expressed unique glycosidases with different domain organizations: C. obsidiansis expressed the COB47_1671 protein with GH10/5 domains, while C. bescii expressed the Athe_1857 (GH10/48) and Athe_1859 (GH5/44) proteins. Glycosidases containing CBM3 domains were selectively enriched via binding to amorphous cellulose. Preparations from both bacteria contained highly thermostable enzymes with optimal cellulase activities at 85°C and pH 5. The C. obsidiansis preparation, however, had higher cellulase specific activity and greater thermostability. The C. bescii culture produced more extracellular protein and additional SDS-PAGE bands that demonstrated glycosidase activity.
Global concerns about climate changes and their association with the use of fossil fuels have accelerated research on biological fuel production. Biological hydrogen production from hemicellulose-containing waste is considered one of the promising avenues. A major economical issue for such a process, however, is the low substrate conversion efficiency. Interestingly, the extreme thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus can produce hydrogen from carbohydrate-rich substrates at yields close to the theoretical maximum of the dark fermentation process (i.e., 4 mol H2/mol hexose). The organism is able to ferment an array of mono-, di- and polysaccharides, and is relatively tolerant to high partial hydrogen pressures, making it a promising candidate for exploitation in a biohydrogen process. The behaviour of this Gram-positive bacterium bears all hallmarks of being adapted to an environment sparse in free sugars, which is further reflected in its low volumetric hydrogen productivity and low osmotolerance. These two properties need to be improved by at least a factor of 10 and 5, respectively, for a cost-effective industrial process. In this review, the physiological characteristics of C. saccharolyticus are analyzed in view of the requirements for an efficient hydrogen cell factory. A special emphasis is put on the tight regulation of hydrogen production in C. saccharolyticus by both redox and energy metabolism. Suggestions for strategies to overcome the current challenges facing the potential use of the organism in hydrogen production are also discussed.
Thermophilic microorganisms have special advantages for the conversion of plant biomass to fuels and chemicals. Members of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor are the most thermophilic cellulolytic bacteria known. They have the ability to grow on a variety of non-pretreated biomass substrates at or near ~80°C and hold promise for converting biomass to bioproducts in a single step. As for all such relatively uncharacterized organisms with desirable traits, the ability to genetically manipulate them is a prerequisite for making them useful. Metabolic engineering of pathways for product synthesis is relatively simple compared to engineering the ability to utilize non-pretreated biomass.
Here we report the construction of a deletion of cbeI (Cbes2438), which encodes a restriction endonuclease that is as a major barrier to DNA transformation of C. bescii. This is the first example of a targeted chromosomal deletion generated by homologous recombination in this genus and the resulting mutant, JWCB018 (ΔpyrFA ΔcbeI), is readily transformed by DNA isolated from E. coli without in vitro methylation. PCR amplification and sequencing suggested that this deletion left the adjacent methyltransferase (Cbes2437) intact. This was confirmed by the fact that DNA isolated from JWCB018 was protected from digestion by CbeI and HaeIII. Plasmid DNA isolated from C. hydrothermalis transformants were readily transformed into C. bescii. Digestion analysis of chromosomal DNA isolated from seven Caldicellulosiruptor species by using nine different restriction endonucleases was also performed to identify the functional restriction-modification activities in this genus.
Deletion of the cbeI gene removes a substantial barrier to routine DNA transformation and chromosomal modification of C. bescii. This will facilitate the functional analyses of genes as well as metabolic engineering for the production of biofuels and bioproducts from biomass. An analysis of restriction-modification activities in members of this genus suggests a way forward to eliminating restriction as a barrier to DNA transformation and efficient genetic manipulation of this important group of hyperthermophiles.
Caldicellulosiruptor species; Biomass conversion; Restriction-modification enzymes; CbeI; M.CbeI; Targeted deletion
The genus Caldicellulosiruptor contains extremely thermophilic bacteria that grow on plant polysaccharides. The genomes of Caldicellulosiruptor species reveal certain surface layer homology (SLH) domain proteins that have distinguishing features, pointing to a role in lignocellulose deconstruction. Two of these proteins in Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus (Csac_0678 and Csac_2722) were examined from this perspective. In addition to three contiguous SLH domains, the Csac_0678 gene encodes a glycoside hydrolase family 5 (GH5) catalytic domain and a family 28 carbohydrate-binding module (CBM); orthologs to Csac_0678 could be identified in all genome-sequenced Caldicellulosiruptor species. Recombinant Csac_0678 was optimally active at 75°C and pH 5.0, exhibiting both endoglucanase and xylanase activities. SLH domain removal did not impact Csac_0678 GH activity, but deletion of the CBM28 domain eliminated binding to crystalline cellulose and rendered the enzyme inactive on this substrate. Csac_2722 is the largest open reading frame (ORF) in the C. saccharolyticus genome (predicted molecular mass of 286,516 kDa) and contains two putative sugar-binding domains, two Big4 domains (bacterial domains with an immunoglobulin [Ig]-like fold), and a cadherin-like (Cd) domain. Recombinant Csac_2722, lacking the SLH and Cd domains, bound to cellulose and had detectable carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) hydrolytic activity. Antibodies directed against Csac_0678 and Csac_2722 confirmed that these proteins bound to the C. saccharolyticus S-layer. Their cellular localization and functional biochemical properties indicate roles for Csac_0678 and Csac_2722 in recruitment and hydrolysis of complex polysaccharides and the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. Furthermore, these results suggest that related SLH domain proteins in other Caldicellulosiruptor genomes may also be important contributors to plant biomass utilization.
Spirochaeta thermophila is a thermophilic, free-living, and cellulolytic anaerobe. The genome sequence data for this organism have revealed a high density of genes encoding enzymes from more than 30 glycoside hydrolase (GH) families and a noncellulosomal enzyme system for (hemi)cellulose degradation. Functional screening of a fosmid library whose inserts were mapped on the S. thermophila genome sequence allowed the functional annotation of numerous GH open reading frames (ORFs). Seven different GH ORFs from the S. thermophila DSM 6192 genome, all putative β-glycanase ORFs according to sequence similarity analysis, contained a highly conserved novel GH-associated module of unknown function at their C terminus. Four of these GH enzymes were experimentally verified as xylanase, β-glucanase, β-glucanase/carboxymethylcellulase (CMCase), and CMCase. Binding experiments performed with the recombinantly expressed and purified GH-associated module showed that it represents a new carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) that binds to microcrystalline cellulose and is highly specific for this substrate. In the course of this work, the new CBM type was only detected in Spirochaeta, but recently we found sequences with detectable similarity to the module in the draft genomes of Cytophaga fermentans and Mahella australiensis, both of which are phylogenetically very distant from S. thermophila and noncellulolytic, yet inhabit similar environments. This suggests a possibly broad distribution of the module in nature.
Elucidation of fungal biomass degradation is important for understanding the turnover of biological materials in nature and has important implications for industrial biomass conversion. In recent years there has been an increasing interest in elucidating the biological role of thermophilic fungi and in characterization of their industrially useful enzymes. In the present study we investigated the cellulolytic potential of 16 thermophilic fungi from the three ascomycete orders Sordariales, Eurotiales and Onygenales and from the zygomycete order Mucorales thus covering all fungal orders that include thermophiles. Thermophilic fungi are the only described eukaryotes that can grow at temperatures above 45°C. All 16 fungi were able to grow on crystalline cellulose but their secreted enzymes showed widely different cellulolytic activities, pH optima and thermostabilities. Interestingly, in contrast to previous reports, we found that some fungi such as Melanocarpus albomyces readily grew on crystalline cellulose and produced cellulases. These results indicate that there are large differences in the cellulolytic potential of different isolates of the same species. Furthermore, all the selected species were able to degrade cellulose but the differences in cellulolytic potential and thermostability of the secretome did not correlate to the taxonomic position. PCR amplification and sequencing of 22 cellulase genes from the fungi showed that the level of thermostability of the cellulose-degrading activity could not be inferred from the phylogenetic relationship of the cellulases.
Thermophilic fungi; Endoglucanase; Cellobiohydrolase; Cellulolytic potential
Phylogenetic, microbiological, and comparative genomic analyses were used to examine the diversity among members of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor, with an eye toward the capacity of these extremely thermophilic bacteria to degrade the complex carbohydrate content of plant biomass. Seven species from this genus (C. saccharolyticus, C. bescii, C. hydrothermalis, C. owensensis, C. kronotskyensis, C. lactoaceticus, and C. kristjanssonii) were compared on the basis of 16S rRNA gene phylogeny and cross-species DNA-DNA hybridization to a whole-genome C. saccharolyticus oligonucleotide microarray, revealing that C. saccharolyticus was the most divergent within this group. Growth physiology of the seven Caldicellulosiruptor species on a range of carbohydrates showed that, while all could be cultivated on acid-pretreated switchgrass, only C. saccharolyticus, C. bescii, C. kronotskyensis, and C. lactoaceticus were capable of hydrolyzing Whatman no. 1 filter paper. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of the secretomes from cells grown on microcrystalline cellulose revealed that the cellulolytic species also had diverse secretome fingerprints. The C. saccharolyticus secretome contained a prominent S-layer protein that appears in the cellulolytic Caldicellulosiruptor species, suggesting a possible role in cell-substrate interactions. Growth physiology also correlated with glycoside hydrolase (GH) and carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) inventories for the seven bacteria, as deduced from draft genome sequence information. These inventories indicated that the absence of a single GH and CBM family was responsible for diminished cellulolytic capacity. Overall, the genus Caldicellulosiruptor appears to contain more genomic and physiological diversity than previously reported, and this argues for continued efforts to isolate new members from high-temperature terrestrial biotopes.
Clostridium thermocellum is a gram-positive, acetogenic, thermophilic, anaerobic bacterium that degrades cellulose and carries out mixed product fermentation, catabolising cellulose to acetate, lactate, and ethanol under various growth conditions, with the concomitant release of H2 and CO2. Very little is known about the factors that determine metabolic fluxes influencing H2 synthesis in anaerobic, cellulolytic bacteria like C. thermocellum. We have begun to investigate the relationships between genome content, gene expression, and end-product synthesis in C. thermocellum cultured under different conditions. Using bioinformatics tools and the complete C. thermocellum 27405 genome sequence, we identified genes encoding key enzymes in pyruvate catabolism and H2-synthesis pathways, and have confirmed transcription of these genes throughout growth on α-cellulose by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Bioinformatic analyses revealed two putative lactate dehydrogenases, one pyruvate formate lyase, four pyruvate:formate lyase activating enzymes, and at least three putative pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (POR) or POR-like enzymes. Our data suggests that hydrogen may be generated through the action of either a Ferredoxin (Fd)-dependent NiFe hydrogenase, often referred to as “Energy-converting Hydrogenases”, or via NAD(P)Hdependent Fe-only hydrogenases which would permit H2 production from NADH generated during the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase reaction. Furthermore, our findings show the presence of a gene cluster putatively encoding a membrane integral NADH:Fd oxidoreductase, suggesting a possible mechanism in which electrons could be transferred between NADH and ferredoxin. The elucidation of pyruvate catabolism pathways and mechanisms of H2 synthesis is the first step in developing strategies to increase hydrogen yields from biomass. Our studies have outlined the likely pathways leading to hydrogen synthesis in C. thermocellum strain 27405, but the actual functional roles of these gene products during pyruvate catabolism and in H 2 synthesis remain to be elucidated, and will need to be confirmed using both expression analysis and protein characterization.
Clostridium thermocellum; Fermentation; Cellulose; Hydrogen; Pyruvate catabolism