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1.  Discovery and characterization of ionic liquid-tolerant thermophilic cellulases from a switchgrass-adapted microbial community 
The development of advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass will require the use of both efficient pretreatment methods and new biomass-deconstructing enzyme cocktails to generate sugars from lignocellulosic substrates. Certain ionic liquids (ILs) have emerged as a promising class of compounds for biomass pretreatment and have been demonstrated to reduce the recalcitrance of biomass for enzymatic hydrolysis. However, current commercial cellulase cocktails are strongly inhibited by most of the ILs that are effective biomass pretreatment solvents. Fortunately, recent research has shown that IL-tolerant cocktails can be formulated and are functional on lignocellulosic biomass. This study sought to expand the list of known IL-tolerant cellulases to further enable IL-tolerant cocktail development by developing a combined in vitro/in vivo screening pipeline for metagenome-derived genes.
Thirty-seven predicted cellulases derived from a thermophilic switchgrass-adapted microbial community were screened in this study. Eighteen of the twenty-one enzymes that expressed well in E. coli were active in the presence of the IL 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]) concentrations of at least 10% (v/v), with several retaining activity in the presence of 40% (v/v), which is currently the highest reported tolerance to [C2mim][OAc] for any cellulase. In addition, the optimum temperatures of the enzymes ranged from 45 to 95°C and the pH optimum ranged from 5.5 to 7.5, indicating these enzymes can be used to construct cellulase cocktails that function under a broad range of temperature, pH and IL concentrations.
This study characterized in detail twenty-one cellulose-degrading enzymes derived from a thermophilic microbial community and found that 70% of them were [C2mim][OAc]-tolerant. A comparison of optimum temperature and [C2mim][OAc]-tolerance demonstrates that a positive correlation exists between these properties for those enzymes with a optimum temperature >70°C, further strengthening the link between thermotolerance and IL-tolerance for lignocelluolytic glycoside hydrolases.
PMCID: PMC3923250  PMID: 24479406
Cellulase; Ionic liquid; Thermophilic; Biofuel
2.  Glycoside Hydrolase Activities of Thermophilic Bacterial Consortia Adapted to Switchgrass ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(16):5804-5812.
Industrial-scale biofuel production requires robust enzymatic cocktails to produce fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. Thermophilic bacterial consortia are a potential source of cellulases and hemicellulases adapted to harsher reaction conditions than commercial fungal enzymes. Compost-derived microbial consortia were adapted to switchgrass at 60°C to develop thermophilic biomass-degrading consortia for detailed studies. Microbial community analysis using small-subunit rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing and short-read metagenomic sequencing demonstrated that thermophilic adaptation to switchgrass resulted in low-diversity bacterial consortia with a high abundance of bacteria related to thermophilic paenibacilli, Rhodothermus marinus, and Thermus thermophilus. At lower abundance, thermophilic Chloroflexi and an uncultivated lineage of the Gemmatimonadetes phylum were observed. Supernatants isolated from these consortia had high levels of xylanase and endoglucanase activities. Compared to commercial enzyme preparations, the endoglucanase enzymes had a higher thermotolerance and were more stable in the presence of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]), an ionic liquid used for biomass pretreatment. The supernatants were used to saccharify [C2mim][OAc]-pretreated switchgrass at elevated temperatures (up to 80°C), demonstrating that these consortia are an excellent source of enzymes for the development of enzymatic cocktails tailored to more extreme reaction conditions.
PMCID: PMC3165268  PMID: 21724886
3.  Characterization of hemicellulase and cellulase from the extremely thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor owensensis and their potential application for bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass without pretreatment 
Pretreatment is currently the common approach for improving the efficiency of enzymatic hydrolysis on lignocellulose. However, the pretreatment process is expensive and will produce inhibitors such as furan derivatives and phenol derivatives. If the lignocellulosic biomass can efficiently be saccharified by enzymolysis without pretreatment, the bioconversion process would be simplified. The genus Caldicellulosiruptor, an obligatory anaerobic and extreme thermophile can produce a diverse set of glycoside hydrolases (GHs) for deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. It gives potential opportunities for improving the efficiency of converting native lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars.
Both of the extracellular (extra-) and intracellular (intra-) enzymes of C. owensensis cultivated on corncob xylan or xylose had cellulase (including endoglucanase, cellobiohydrolase and β-glucosidase) and hemicellulase (including xylanase, xylosidase, arabinofuranosidase and acetyl xylan esterase) activities. The enzymes of C. owensensis had high ability for degrading hemicellulose of native corn stover and corncob with the conversion rates of xylan 16.7 % and araban 60.0 %. Moreover, they had remarkable synergetic function with the commercial enzyme cocktail Cellic CTec2 (Novoyzmes). When the native corn stover and corncob were respectively, sequentially hydrolyzed by the extra-enzymes of C. owensensis and CTec2, the glucan conversion rates were 31.2 and 37.9 %,which were 1.7- and 1.9-fold of each control (hydrolyzed by CTec2 alone), whereas the glucan conversion rates of the steam-exploded corn stover and corncob hydrolyzed by CTec2 alone on the same loading rate were 38.2 and 39.6 %, respectively. These results show that hydrolysis by the extra-enzyme of C. owensensis made almost the same contribution as steam-exploded pretreatment on degradation of native lignocellulosic biomass. A new process for saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass by sequential hydrolysis is demonstrated in the present research, namely hyperthermal enzymolysis (70–80 °C) by enzymes of C. owensensis followed with mesothermal enzymolysis (50–55 °C) by commercial cellulase. This process has the advantages of no sugar loss, few inhibitors generation and consolidated with sterilization.
The enzymes of C. owensensis demonstrated an enhanced ability to degrade the hemicellulose of native lignocellulose. The pretreatment and detoxification steps may be removed from the bioconversion process of the lignocellulosic biomass by using the enzymes from C. owensensis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-015-0313-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4552416  PMID: 26322125
Lignocellulose; Caldicellulosiruptor; Thermophilic enzyme; Synergetic hydrolysis; Pretreatment; Cellulase; Hemicellulase
4.  Comparative secretome analysis of Trichoderma asperellum S4F8 and Trichoderma reesei Rut C30 during solid-state fermentation on sugarcane bagasse 
The lignocellulosic enzymes of Trichoderma species have received particular attention with regard to biomass conversion to biofuels, but the production cost of these enzymes remains a significant hurdle for their commercial application. In this study, we quantitatively compared the lignocellulolytic enzyme profile of a newly isolated Trichoderma asperellum S4F8 strain with that of Trichoderma reesei Rut C30, cultured on sugarcane bagasse (SCB) using solid-state fermentation (SSF).
Comparison of the lignocellulolytic enzyme profiles of S4F8 and Rut C30 showed that S4F8 had significantly higher hemicellulase and β-glucosidase enzyme activities. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis of the two fungal secretomes enabled the detection of 815 proteins in total, with 418 and 397 proteins being specific for S4F8 and Rut C30, respectively, and 174 proteins being common to both strains. In-depth analysis of the associated biological functions and the representation of glycoside hydrolase family members within the two secretomes indicated that the S4F8 secretome contained a higher diversity of main and side chain hemicellulases and β-glucosidases, and an increased abundance of some of these proteins compared with the Rut C30 secretome.
In SCB SSF, T. asperellum S4F8 produced a more complex lignocellulolytic cocktail, with enhanced hemicellulose and cellobiose hydrolysis potential, compared with T. reesei Rut C30. This bodes well for the development of a more cost-effective and efficient lignocellulolytic enzyme cocktail from T. asperellum for lignocellulosic feedstock hydrolysis.
PMCID: PMC4177139  PMID: 24286470
Trichoderma asperellum S4F8; Trichoderma reesei Rut C30; Secretome; Solid-state fermentation; Sugarcane bagasse; Proteomics
5.  Targeted Discovery of Glycoside Hydrolases from a Switchgrass-Adapted Compost Community 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8812.
Development of cellulosic biofuels from non-food crops is currently an area of intense research interest. Tailoring depolymerizing enzymes to particular feedstocks and pretreatment conditions is one promising avenue of research in this area. Here we added a green-waste compost inoculum to switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and simulated thermophilic composting in a bioreactor to select for a switchgrass-adapted community and to facilitate targeted discovery of glycoside hydrolases. Small-subunit (SSU) rRNA-based community profiles revealed that the microbial community changed dramatically between the initial and switchgrass-adapted compost (SAC) with some bacterial populations being enriched over 20-fold. We obtained 225 Mbp of 454-titanium pyrosequence data from the SAC community and conservatively identified 800 genes encoding glycoside hydrolase domains that were biased toward depolymerizing grass cell wall components. Of these, ∼10% were putative cellulases mostly belonging to families GH5 and GH9. We synthesized two SAC GH9 genes with codon optimization for heterologous expression in Escherichia coli and observed activity for one on carboxymethyl cellulose. The active GH9 enzyme has a temperature optimum of 50°C and pH range of 5.5 to 8 consistent with the composting conditions applied. We demonstrate that microbial communities adapt to switchgrass decomposition using simulated composting condition and that full-length genes can be identified from complex metagenomic sequence data, synthesized and expressed resulting in active enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2809096  PMID: 20098679
6.  Expression of Trichoderma reesei β-Mannanase in Tobacco Chloroplasts and Its Utilization in Lignocellulosic Woody Biomass Hydrolysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29302.
Lignocellulosic ethanol offers a promising alternative to conventional fossil fuels. One among the major limitations in the lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis is unavailability of efficient and environmentally biomass degrading technologies. Plant-based production of these enzymes on large scale offers a cost-effective solution. Cellulases, hemicellulases including mannanases and other accessory enzymes are required for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. β-mannanase catalyzes endo-hydrolysis of the mannan backbone, a major constituent of woody biomass. In this study, the man1 gene encoding β-mannanase was isolated from Trichoderma reesei and expressed via the chloroplast genome. PCR and Southern hybridization analysis confirmed site-specific transgene integration into the tobacco chloroplast genomes and homoplasmy. Transplastomic plants were fertile and set viable seeds. Germination of seeds in the selection medium showed inheritance of transgenes into the progeny without any Mendelian segregation. Expression of endo-β-mannanase for the first time in plants facilitated its characterization for use in enhanced lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis. Gel diffusion assay for endo-β-mannanase showed the zone of clearance confirming functionality of chloroplast-derived mannanase. Endo-β-mannanase expression levels reached up to 25 units per gram of leaf (fresh weight). Chloroplast-derived mannanase had higher temperature stability (40°C to 70°C) and wider pH optima (pH 3.0 to 7.0) than E.coli enzyme extracts. Plant crude extracts showed 6–7 fold higher enzyme activity than E.coli extracts due to the formation of disulfide bonds in chloroplasts, thereby facilitating their direct utilization in enzyme cocktails without any purification. Chloroplast-derived mannanase when added to the enzyme cocktail containing a combination of different plant-derived enzymes yielded 20% more glucose equivalents from pinewood than the cocktail without mannanase. Our results demonstrate that chloroplast-derived mannanase is an important component of enzymatic cocktail for woody biomass hydrolysis and should provide a cost-effective solution for its diverse applications in the biofuel, paper, oil, pharmaceutical, coffee and detergent industries.
PMCID: PMC3247253  PMID: 22216240
7.  Metatranscriptomic analysis of lignocellulolytic microbial communities involved in high-solids decomposition of rice straw 
New lignocellulolytic enzymes are needed that maintain optimal activity under the harsh conditions present during industrial enzymatic deconstruction of biomass, including high temperatures, the absence of free water, and the presence of inhibitors from the biomass. Enriching lignocellulolytic microbial communities under these conditions provides a source of microorganisms that may yield robust lignocellulolytic enzymes tolerant to the extreme conditions needed to improve the throughput and efficiency of biomass enzymatic deconstruction. Identification of promising enzymes from these systems is challenging due to complex substrate-enzyme interactions and requirements to assay for activity. In this study, metatranscriptomes from compost-derived microbial communities enriched on rice straw under thermophilic and mesophilic conditions were sequenced and analyzed to identify lignocellulolytic enzymes overexpressed under thermophilic conditions. To determine differential gene expression across mesophilic and thermophilic treatments, a method was developed which pooled gene expression by functional category, as indicated by Pfam annotations, since microbial communities performing similar tasks are likely to have overlapping functions even if they share no specific genes.
Differential expression analysis identified enzymes from glycoside hydrolase family 48, carbohydrate binding module family 2, and carbohydrate binding module family 33 domains as significantly overexpressed in the thermophilic community. Overexpression of these protein families in the thermophilic community resulted from expression of a small number of genes not currently represented in any protein database. Genes in overexpressed protein families were predominantly expressed by a single Actinobacteria genus, Micromonospora.
Coupling measurements of deconstructive activity with comparative analyses to identify overexpressed enzymes in lignocellulolytic communities provides a targeted approach for discovery of candidate enzymes for more efficient biomass deconstruction. Glycoside hydrolase family 48 cellulases and carbohydrate binding module family 33 polysaccharide monooxygenases with carbohydrate binding module family 2 domains may improve saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass under high-temperature and low moisture conditions relevant to industrial biofuel production.
PMCID: PMC4296540  PMID: 25648696
Lignocellulose deconstruction; Solid-state culture; Microbial communities; Biofuels; Cellulase; Glycoside hydrolase family 48; Carbohydrate binding module family 2; Carbohydrate binding module family 33
8.  Hemicellulases and auxiliary enzymes for improved conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to monosaccharides 
High enzyme loading is a major economic bottleneck for the commercial processing of pretreated lignocellulosic biomass to produce fermentable sugars. Optimizing the enzyme cocktail for specific types of pretreated biomass allows for a significant reduction in enzyme loading without sacrificing hydrolysis yield. This is especially important for alkaline pretreatments such as Ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) pretreated corn stover. Hence, a diverse set of hemicellulases supplemented along with cellulases is necessary for high recovery of monosaccharides.
The core fungal cellulases in the optimal cocktail include cellobiohydrolase I [CBH I; glycoside hydrolase (GH) family 7A], cellobiohydrolase II (CBH II; GH family 6A), endoglucanase I (EG I; GH family 7B) and β-glucosidase (βG; GH family 3). Hemicellulases tested along with the core cellulases include xylanases (LX1, GH family 10; LX2, GH family 10; LX3, GH family 10; LX4, GH family 11; LX5, GH family 10; LX6, GH family 10), β-xylosidase (LβX; GH family 52), α-arabinofuranosidase (LArb, GH family 51) and α-glucuronidase (LαGl, GH family 67) that were cloned, expressed and/or purified from different bacterial sources. Different combinations of these enzymes were tested using a high-throughput microplate based 24 h hydrolysis assay. Both family 10 (LX3) and family 11 (LX4) xylanases were found to most efficiently hydrolyze AFEX pretreated corn stover in a synergistic manner. The optimal mass ratio of xylanases (LX3 and LX4) to cellulases (CBH I, CBH II and EG I) is 25:75. LβX (0.6 mg/g glucan) is crucial to obtaining monomeric xylose (54% xylose yield), while LArb (0.6 mg/g glucan) and LαGl (0.8 mg/g glucan) can both further increase xylose yield by an additional 20%. Compared with Accellerase 1000, a purified cocktail of cellulases supplemented with accessory hemicellulases will not only increase both glucose and xylose yields but will also decrease the total enzyme loading needed for equivalent yields.
A diverse set of accessory hemicellulases was found necessary to enhance the synergistic action of cellulases hydrolysing AFEX pretreated corn stover. High glucose (around 80%) and xylose (around 70%) yields were achieved with a moderate enzyme loading (~20 mg protein/g glucan) using an in-house developed cocktail compared to commercial enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3056733  PMID: 21342516
9.  Proteome-wide systems analysis of a cellulosic biofuel-producing microbe 
We apply mass spectrometry-based ReDi proteomics to quantify the Clostridium phytofermentans proteome during fermentation of cellulosic substrates. ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of an extra and intracellular microbial proteome. When combined with physiological measurements, these methods form a general systems biology strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process.C. phytofermentans expressed more than 100 carbohydrate-active enzymes, of which distinct subsets were upregulated on cellulose and hemicellulose. Numerous extracellular enzymes cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, which are transported into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular carbohydratases. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating alternative glycolytic enzymes to maximize the ATP yield of anaerobic metabolism.During cellulosic fermentation, cells adhered to the substrate and altered metabolic processes such as upregulation of tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. These diverse metabolic changes highlight how a systems approach can identify novel ways to optimize cellulosic fermentation.
Cellulose is the world's most abundant renewable, biological energy source (Leschine, 1995). Microbial fermentation of cellulosic biomass could sustainably provide enough ethanol for 65% of US ground transportation fuel at current levels (Somerville, 2006). However, cellulose in plant biomass is packaged into a crystalline matrix, making biomass deconstruction a key roadblock to using it as a feedstock (Houghton et al, 2006). A promising strategy to overcome biomass recalcitrance is consolidated bioprocessing (Lynd et al, 2002), which uses microbes such as Clostridium phytofermentans to both secrete enzymes to depolymerize biomass and then ferment the resulting hexose and pentose sugars to a biofuel such as ethanol. The C. phytofermentans genome encodes 161 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZy) including 108 glycoside hydrolases spread across 39 families (Cantarel et al, 2009), highlighting the elaborate set of enzymes needed to breakdown different cellulosic polysaccharides. Faced with the complexity of metabolizing biomass, systems biology strategies are needed to comprehensively identify which cellulolytic and metabolic enzymes are used to ferment different cellulosic substrates.
This study presents a systems-level analysis of how C. phytofermentans ferments different cellulosic substrates that incorporates quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics of over 2500 proteins. Protein concentrations within each carbon source treatment were calculated by machine learning-supported spectral counting (Absolute Protein EXpression, APEX) (Lu et al, 2007). Protein levels on hemicellulose and cellulose relative to glucose were determined using reductive methylation (Hsu et al, 2003; Boersema et al, 2009), here called ReDi labeling, to chemically incorporate hydrogen or deuterium isotopes at lysines and N-terminal amines of tryptic peptides. We show that ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of a microbial proteome and can be used to discern extracellular proteins. Further, we combine these quantitative proteomics with detailed measurements of growth, biomass consumption, fermentation product analyses, and electron microscopy. Together, these methods form a general strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process (Figure 1).
We found that fermentation of cellulosic substrates by C. phytofermentans involves secretion of numerous CAZy as well as proteins for binding of extracellular solutes, proteolysis, and motility. The most highly expressed protein in the proteome is a secreted protein that appears to compose a surface layer to support the cell and anchor cell surface proteins, including some enzymes for plant degradation. Once the secreted CAZy cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, they are taken into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular CAZy, enabling more efficient sugar transport, conserving energy by phosphorolytic cleavage, and ensuring the sugar monomers were not available to competing microbes. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating reversible, PPi-dependent glycolytic enzymes, and pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase. The genome encodes seven alcohol dehydrogenases, among which two iron-dependent enzymes are highly expressed and likely facilitate the high ethanol yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in indirect changes such as increased tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis and repression of fatty acid synthesis. We distilled the data into a model showing the highly expressed enzymes enabling efficient cellulosic fermentation by C. phytofermentans (Figure 7). Collectively, these data help understand how bacteria recycle plant biomass works towards enabling the use of plant biomass as a low-cost chemical feedstock.
Fermentation of plant biomass by microbes like Clostridium phytofermentans recycles carbon globally and can make biofuels from inedible feedstocks. We analyzed C. phytofermentans fermenting cellulosic substrates by integrating quantitative mass spectrometry of more than 2500 proteins with measurements of growth, enzyme activities, fermentation products, and electron microscopy. Absolute protein concentrations were estimated using Absolute Protein EXpression (APEX); relative changes between treatments were quantified with chemical stable isotope labeling by reductive dimethylation (ReDi). We identified the different combinations of carbohydratases used to degrade cellulose and hemicellulose, many of which were secreted based on quantification of supernatant proteins, as well as the repertoires of glycolytic enzymes and alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) enabling ethanol production at near maximal yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in diverse changes such as increased expression of tryptophan synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. This study gives a systems-level understanding of how this microbe ferments biomass and provides a rational, empirical basis to identify engineering targets for industrial cellulosic fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3049413  PMID: 21245846
bioenergy; clostridium; proteomics
10.  Metagenomic Insights into the Fibrolytic Microbiome in Yak Rumen 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40430.
The rumen hosts one of the most efficient microbial systems for degrading plant cell walls, yet the predominant cellulolytic proteins and fibrolytic mechanism(s) remain elusive. Here we investigated the cellulolytic microbiome of the yak rumen by using a combination of metagenome-based and bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based functional screening approaches. Totally 223 fibrolytic BAC clones were pyrosequenced and 10,070 ORFs were identified. Among them 150 were annotated as the glycoside hydrolase (GH) genes for fibrolytic proteins, and the majority (69%) of them were clustered or linked with genes encoding related functions. Among the 35 fibrolytic contigs of >10 Kb in length, 25 were derived from Bacteroidetes and four from Firmicutes. Coverage analysis indicated that the fibrolytic genes on most Bacteroidetes-contigs were abundantly represented in the metagenomic sequences, and they were frequently linked with genes encoding SusC/SusD-type outer-membrane proteins. GH5, GH9, and GH10 cellulase/hemicellulase genes were predominant, but no GH48 exocellulase gene was found. Most (85%) of the cellulase and hemicellulase proteins possessed a signal peptide; only a few carried carbohydrate-binding modules, and no cellulosomal domains were detected. These findings suggest that the SucC/SucD-involving mechanism, instead of one based on cellulosomes or the free-enzyme system, serves a major role in lignocellulose degradation in yak rumen. Genes encoding an endoglucanase of a novel GH5 subfamily occurred frequently in the metagenome, and the recombinant proteins encoded by the genes displayed moderate Avicelase in addition to endoglucanase activities, suggesting their important contribution to lignocellulose degradation in the exocellulase-scarce rumen.
PMCID: PMC3396655  PMID: 22808161
11.  Synergistic function of four novel thermostable glycoside hydrolases from a long-term enriched thermophilic methanogenic digester 
In biofuel production from lignocellulose, low thermostability and product inhibition strongly restrict the enzyme activities and production process. Application of multiple thermostable glycoside hydrolases, forming an enzyme “cocktail”, can result in a synergistic action and therefore improve production efficiency and reduce operational costs. Therefore, increasing enzyme thermostabilities and compatibility are important for the biofuel industry. In this study, we reported the screening, cloning and biochemical characterization of four novel thermostable lignocellulose hydrolases from a metagenomic library of a long-term dry thermophilic methanogenic digester community, which were highly compatible with optimal conditions and specific activities. The optimal temperatures of the four enzymes, β-xylosidase, xylanase, β-glucosidase, and cellulase ranged from 60 to 75°C, and over 80% residual activities were observed after 2 h incubation at 50°C. Mixtures of these hydrolases retained high residual synergistic activities after incubation with cellulose, xylan, and steam-exploded corncob at 50°C for 72 h. In addition, about 55% dry weight of steam-exploded corncob was hydrolyzed to glucose and xylose by the synergistic action of the four enzymes at 50°C for 48 h. This work suggested that since different enzymes from a same ecosystem could be more compatible, screening enzymes from a long-term enriching community could be a favorable strategy.
PMCID: PMC4441150  PMID: 26052323
cellulase; xylanase; β-xylosidase; β-glucosidase; metagenome; enzyme compatibility; enzyme cocktail; biofuels production
12.  Comparative Genomic Analysis of the Endosymbionts of Herbivorous Insects Reveals Eco-Environmental Adaptations: Biotechnology Applications 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003131.
Metagenome analysis of the gut symbionts of three different insects was conducted as a means of comparing taxonomic and metabolic diversity of gut microbiomes to diet and life history of the insect hosts. A second goal was the discovery of novel biocatalysts for biorefinery applications. Grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts were sequenced and compared with the previously identified metagenome of termite gut microbiota. These insect hosts represent three different insect orders and specialize on different food types. The comparative analysis revealed dramatic differences among the three insect species in the abundance and taxonomic composition of the symbiont populations present in the gut. The composition and abundance of symbionts was correlated with their previously identified capacity to degrade and utilize the different types of food consumed by their hosts. The metabolic reconstruction revealed that the gut metabolome of cutworms and grasshoppers was more enriched for genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and transport than wood-feeding termite, whereas the termite gut metabolome was enriched for glycosyl hydrolase (GH) enzymes relevant to lignocellulosic biomass degradation. Moreover, termite gut metabolome was more enriched with nitrogen fixation genes than those of grasshopper and cutworm gut, presumably due to the termite's adaptation to the high fiber and less nutritious food types. In order to evaluate and exploit the insect symbionts for biotechnology applications, we cloned and further characterized four biomass-degrading enzymes including one endoglucanase and one xylanase from both the grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts. The results indicated that the grasshopper symbiont enzymes were generally more efficient in biomass degradation than the homologous enzymes from cutworm symbionts. Together, these results demonstrated a correlation between the composition and putative metabolic functionality of the gut microbiome and host diet, and suggested that this relationship could be exploited for the discovery of symbionts and biocatalysts useful for biorefinery applications.
Author Summary
The symbiotic gut microbiome of herbivorous insects is vital for their ability to utilize and specialize on plants with very different nutrient qualities. Moreover, the gut microbiome is a significant resource for the discovery of biocatalysts and microbes with applications to various biotechnologies. We compared the gut symbionts from three different insect species to examine whether there was a relationship between the diversity and metabolic capability of the symbionts and the diet of their hosts, with the goal of using such a relationship for the discovery of biocatalysts for biofuel applications. The study revealed that the metabolic capabilities of the insect gut symbionts correlated with insect adaptation to different food types and life histories at the levels of species, metabolic pathway, and individual gene. Moreover, we showed that the grasshopper cellulase and xylanase enzymes generally exhibited higher activities than those of cutworm, demonstrating differences in capabilities even at the protein level. Together, our findings confirmed our previous research and suggested that the grasshopper might be a good target for biocatalyst discovery due to their high gut cellulytic enzyme activities.
PMCID: PMC3542064  PMID: 23326236
13.  Proteogenomic Analysis of a Thermophilic Bacterial Consortium Adapted to Deconstruct Switchgrass 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68465.
Thermophilic bacteria are a potential source of enzymes for the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. However, the complement of proteins used to deconstruct biomass and the specific roles of different microbial groups in thermophilic biomass deconstruction are not well-explored. Here we report on the metagenomic and proteogenomic analyses of a compost-derived bacterial consortium adapted to switchgrass at elevated temperature with high levels of glycoside hydrolase activities. Near-complete genomes were reconstructed for the most abundant populations, which included composite genomes for populations closely related to sequenced strains of Thermus thermophilus and Rhodothermus marinus, and for novel populations that are related to thermophilic Paenibacilli and an uncultivated subdivision of the little-studied Gemmatimonadetes phylum. Partial genomes were also reconstructed for a number of lower abundance thermophilic Chloroflexi populations. Identification of genes for lignocellulose processing and metabolic reconstructions suggested Rhodothermus, Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes as key groups for deconstructing biomass, and Thermus as a group that may primarily metabolize low molecular weight compounds. Mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of the consortium was used to identify >3000 proteins in fractionated samples from the cultures, and confirmed the importance of Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes to biomass deconstruction. These studies also indicate that there are unexplored proteins with important roles in bacterial lignocellulose deconstruction.
PMCID: PMC3716776  PMID: 23894306
14.  Thermoascus aurantiacus is a promising source of enzymes for biomass deconstruction under thermophilic conditions 
Thermophilic fungi have attracted increased interest for their ability to secrete enzymes that deconstruct biomass at high temperatures. However, development of thermophilic fungi as enzyme producers for biomass deconstruction has not been thoroughly investigated. Comparing the enzymatic activities of thermophilic fungal strains that grow on targeted biomass feedstocks has the potential to identify promising candidates for strain development. Thielavia terrestris and Thermoascus aurantiacus were chosen for characterization based on literature precedents.
Thermoascus aurantiacus and Thielavia terrestris were cultivated on various biomass substrates and culture supernatants assayed for glycoside hydrolase activities. Supernatants from both cultures possessed comparable glycoside hydrolase activities when incubated with artificial biomass substrates. In contrast, saccharifications of ionic liquid pretreated switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) revealed that T. aurantiacus enzymes released more glucose than T. terrestris enzymes over a range of protein mass loadings and temperatures. Temperature-dependent saccharifications demonstrated that the T. aurantiacus proteins retained higher levels of activity compared to a commercial enzyme mixture sold by Novozymes, Cellic CTec2, at elevated temperatures. Enzymes secreted by T. aurantiacus released glucose at similar protein loadings to CTec2 on dilute acid, ammonia fiber expansion, or ionic liquid pretreated switchgrass. Proteomic analysis of the T. aurantiacus culture supernatant revealed dominant glycoside hydrolases from families 5, 7, 10, and 61, proteins that are key enzymes in commercial cocktails.
T. aurantiacus produces a complement of secreted proteins capable of higher levels of saccharification of pretreated switchgrass than T. terrestris enzymes. The T. aurantiacus enzymatic cocktail performs at the same level as commercially available enzymatic cocktail for biomass deconstruction, without strain development or genetic modifications. Therefore, T. aurantiacus provides an excellent platform to develop a thermophilic fungal system for enzyme production for the conversion of biomass to biofuels.
PMCID: PMC3507748  PMID: 22839529
Thermoascus aurantiacus; Thielavia terrestris; GH 61; Polysaccharide monooxygenases; Fungal secretome; Ammonia fiber expansion; Ionic liquid; 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate; Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
15.  Tracking dynamics of plant biomass composting by changes in substrate structure, microbial community, and enzyme activity 
Understanding the dynamics of the microbial communities that, along with their secreted enzymes, are involved in the natural process of biomass composting may hold the key to breaking the major bottleneck in biomass-to-biofuels conversion technology, which is the still-costly deconstruction of polymeric biomass carbohydrates to fermentable sugars.
However, the complexity of both the structure of plant biomass and its counterpart microbial degradation communities makes it difficult to investigate the composting process.
In this study, a composter was set up with a mix of yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) wood-chips and mown lawn grass clippings (85:15 in dry-weight) and used as a model system. The microbial rDNA abundance data obtained from analyzing weekly-withdrawn composted samples suggested population-shifts from bacteria-dominated to fungus-dominated communities. Further analyses by an array of optical microscopic, transcriptional and enzyme-activity techniques yielded correlated results, suggesting that such population shifts occurred along with early removal of hemicellulose followed by attack on the consequently uncovered cellulose as the composting progressed.
The observed shifts in dominance by representative microbial groups, along with the observed different patterns in the gene expression and enzymatic activities between cellulases, hemicellulases, and ligninases during the composting process, provide new perspectives for biomass-derived biotechnology such as consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) and solid-state fermentation for the production of cellulolytic enzymes and biofuels.
PMCID: PMC3384452  PMID: 22490508
Compost; Plant biomass; Yellow poplar; Microbial community; Microbial rDNA abundance; Gene expression; Enzymatic activity; Cellulase; Hemicellulose; Ligninase; Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP); Solid-state fermentation; Biofuels
16.  Comparative analysis of sugarcane bagasse metagenome reveals unique and conserved biomass-degrading enzymes among lignocellulolytic microbial communities 
As one of the most abundant agricultural wastes, sugarcane bagasse is largely under-exploited, but it possesses a great potential for the biofuel, fermentation, and cellulosic biorefinery industries. It also provides a unique ecological niche, as the microbes in this lignocellulose-rich environment thrive in relatively high temperatures (50°C) with varying microenvironments of aerobic surface to anoxic interior. The microbial community in bagasse thus presents a good resource for the discovery and characterization of new biomass-degrading enzymes; however, it remains largely unexplored.
We have constructed a fosmid library of sugarcane bagasse and obtained the largest bagasse metagenome to date. A taxonomic classification of the bagasse metagenome reviews the predominance of Proteobacteria, which are also found in high abundance in other aerobic environments. Based on the functional characterization of biomass-degrading enzymes, we have demonstrated that the bagasse microbial community benefits from a large repertoire of lignocellulolytic enzymes, which allows them to digest different components of lignocelluoses into single molecule sugars. Comparative genomic analyses with other lignocellulolytic and non-lignocellulolytic metagenomes show that microbial communities are taxonomically separable by their aerobic “open” or anoxic “closed” environments. Importantly, a functional analysis of lignocellulose-active genes (based on the CAZy classifications) reveals core enzymes highly conserved within the lignocellulolytic group, regardless of their taxonomic compositions. Cellulases, in particular, are markedly more pronounced compared to the non-lignocellulolytic group. In addition to the core enzymes, the bagasse fosmid library also contains some uniquely enriched glycoside hydrolases, as well as a large repertoire of the newly defined auxiliary activity proteins.
Our study demonstrates a conservation and diversification of carbohydrate-active genes among diverse microbial species in different biomass-degrading niches, and signifies the importance of taking a global approach to functionally investigate a microbial community as a whole, as compared to focusing on individual organisms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-015-0200-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4337096  PMID: 25709713
Lignocellulose degradation; Metagenomics; Comparative genomics; Biorefinery; Biofuels
17.  Multisubstrate Isotope Labeling and Metagenomic Analysis of Active Soil Bacterial Communities 
mBio  2014;5(4):e01157-14.
Soil microbial diversity represents the largest global reservoir of novel microorganisms and enzymes. In this study, we coupled functional metagenomics and DNA stable-isotope probing (DNA-SIP) using multiple plant-derived carbon substrates and diverse soils to characterize active soil bacterial communities and their glycoside hydrolase genes, which have value for industrial applications. We incubated samples from three disparate Canadian soils (tundra, temperate rainforest, and agricultural) with five native carbon (12C) or stable-isotope-labeled (13C) carbohydrates (glucose, cellobiose, xylose, arabinose, and cellulose). Indicator species analysis revealed high specificity and fidelity for many uncultured and unclassified bacterial taxa in the heavy DNA for all soils and substrates. Among characterized taxa, Actinomycetales (Salinibacterium), Rhizobiales (Devosia), Rhodospirillales (Telmatospirillum), and Caulobacterales (Phenylobacterium and Asticcacaulis) were bacterial indicator species for the heavy substrates and soils tested. Both Actinomycetales and Caulobacterales (Phenylobacterium) were associated with metabolism of cellulose, and Alphaproteobacteria were associated with the metabolism of arabinose; members of the order Rhizobiales were strongly associated with the metabolism of xylose. Annotated metagenomic data suggested diverse glycoside hydrolase gene representation within the pooled heavy DNA. By screening 2,876 cloned fragments derived from the 13C-labeled DNA isolated from soils incubated with cellulose, we demonstrate the power of combining DNA-SIP, multiple-displacement amplification (MDA), and functional metagenomics by efficiently isolating multiple clones with activity on carboxymethyl cellulose and fluorogenic proxy substrates for carbohydrate-active enzymes.
The ability to identify genes based on function, instead of sequence homology, allows the discovery of genes that would not be identified through sequence alone. This is arguably the most powerful application of metagenomics for the recovery of novel genes and a natural partner of the stable-isotope-probing approach for targeting active-yet-uncultured microorganisms. We expanded on previous efforts to combine stable-isotope probing and metagenomics, enriching microorganisms from multiple soils that were active in degrading plant-derived carbohydrates, followed by construction of a cellulose-based metagenomic library and recovery of glycoside hydrolases through functional metagenomics. The major advance of our study was the discovery of active-yet-uncultivated soil microorganisms and enrichment of their glycoside hydrolases. We recovered positive cosmid clones in a higher frequency than would be expected with direct metagenomic analysis of soil DNA. This study has generated an invaluable metagenomic resource that future research will exploit for genetic and enzymatic potential.
PMCID: PMC4161255  PMID: 25028422
18.  Curation of characterized glycoside hydrolases of Fungal origin 
Fungi produce a wide range of extracellular enzymes to break down plant cell walls, which are composed mainly of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Among them are the glycoside hydrolases (GH), the largest and most diverse family of enzymes active on these substrates. To facilitate research and development of enzymes for the conversion of cell-wall polysaccharides into fermentable sugars, we have manually curated a comprehensive set of characterized fungal glycoside hydrolases. Characterized glycoside hydrolases were retrieved from protein and enzyme databases, as well as literature repositories. A total of 453 characterized glycoside hydrolases have been cataloged. They come from 131 different fungal species, most of which belong to the phylum Ascomycota. These enzymes represent 46 different GH activities and cover 44 of the 115 CAZy GH families. In addition to enzyme source and enzyme family, available biochemical properties such as temperature and pH optima, specific activity, kinetic parameters and substrate specificities were recorded. To simplify comparative studies, enzyme and species abbreviations have been standardized, Gene Ontology terms assigned and reference to supporting evidence provided. The annotated genes have been organized in a searchable, online database called mycoCLAP (Characterized Lignocellulose-Active Proteins of fungal origin). It is anticipated that this manually curated collection of biochemically characterized fungal proteins will be used to enhance functional annotation of novel GH genes.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3263737  PMID: 21622642
19.  A Thermophilic Ionic Liquid-Tolerant Cellulase Cocktail for the Production of Cellulosic Biofuels 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37010.
Generation of biofuels from sugars in lignocellulosic biomass is a promising alternative to liquid fossil fuels, but efficient and inexpensive bioprocessing configurations must be developed to make this technology commercially viable. One of the major barriers to commercialization is the recalcitrance of plant cell wall polysaccharides to enzymatic hydrolysis. Biomass pretreatment with ionic liquids (ILs) enables efficient saccharification of biomass, but residual ILs inhibit both saccharification and microbial fuel production, requiring extensive washing after IL pretreatment. Pretreatment itself can also produce biomass-derived inhibitory compounds that reduce microbial fuel production. Therefore, there are multiple points in the process from biomass to biofuel production that must be interrogated and optimized to maximize fuel production. Here, we report the development of an IL-tolerant cellulase cocktail by combining thermophilic bacterial glycoside hydrolases produced by a mixed consortia with recombinant glycoside hydrolases. This enzymatic cocktail saccharifies IL-pretreated biomass at higher temperatures and in the presence of much higher IL concentrations than commercial fungal cocktails. Sugars obtained from saccharification of IL-pretreated switchgrass using this cocktail can be converted into biodiesel (fatty acid ethyl-esters or FAEEs) by a metabolically engineered strain of E. coli. During these studies, we found that this biodiesel-producing E. coli strain was sensitive to ILs and inhibitors released by saccharification. This cocktail will enable the development of novel biomass to biofuel bioprocessing configurations that may overcome some of the barriers to production of inexpensive cellulosic biofuels.
PMCID: PMC3359315  PMID: 22649505
20.  Assembly of Xylanases into Designer Cellulosomes Promotes Efficient Hydrolysis of the Xylan Component of a Natural Recalcitrant Cellulosic Substrate 
mBio  2011;2(6):e00233-11.
In nature, the complex composition and structure of the plant cell wall pose a barrier to enzymatic degradation. Nevertheless, some anaerobic bacteria have evolved for this purpose an intriguing, highly efficient multienzyme complex, the cellulosome, which contains numerous cellulases and hemicellulases. The rod-like cellulose component of the plant cell wall is embedded in a colloidal blend of hemicelluloses, a major component of which is xylan. In order to enhance enzymatic degradation of the xylan component of a natural complex substrate (wheat straw) and to study the synergistic action among different xylanases, we have employed a variation of the designer cellulosome approach by fabricating a tetravalent complex that includes the three endoxylanases of Thermobifida fusca (Xyn10A, Xyn10B, and Xyn11A) and an Xyl43A β-xylosidase from the same bacterium. Here, we describe the conversion of Xyn10A and Xyl43A to the cellulosomal mode. The incorporation of the Xyl43A enzyme together with the three endoxylanases into a common designer cellulosome served to enhance the level of reducing sugars produced during wheat straw degradation. The enhanced synergistic action of the four xylanases reflected their immediate juxtaposition in the complex, and these tetravalent xylanolytic designer cellulosomes succeeded in degrading significant (~25%) levels of the total xylan component of the wheat straw substrate. The results suggest that the incorporation of xylanases into cellulosome complexes is advantageous for efficient decomposition of recalcitrant cellulosic substrates—a distinction previously reserved for cellulose-degrading enzymes.
Xylanases are important enzymes for our society, due to their variety of industrial applications. Together with cellulases and other glycoside hydrolases, xylanases may also provide cost-effective conversion of plant-derived cellulosic biomass into soluble sugars en route to biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Xylanases are commonly found in multienzyme cellulosome complexes, produced by anaerobic bacteria, which are considered to be among the most efficient systems for degradation of cellulosic biomass. Using a designer cellulosome approach, we have incorporated the entire xylanolytic system of the bacterium Thermobifida fusca into defined artificial cellulosome complexes. The combined action of these designer cellulosomes versus that of the wild-type free xylanase system was then compared. Our data demonstrated that xylanolytic designer cellulosomes displayed enhanced synergistic activities on a natural recalcitrant wheat straw substrate and could thus serve in the development of advanced systems for improved degradation of lignocellulosic material.
PMCID: PMC3221603  PMID: 22086489
21.  Highly Thermostable Xylanase Production from A Thermophilic Geobacillus sp. Strain WSUCF1 Utilizing Lignocellulosic Biomass 
Efficient enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose to fermentable sugars requires a complete repertoire of biomass deconstruction enzymes. Hemicellulases play an important role in hydrolyzing hemicellulose component of lignocellulose to xylooligosaccharides and xylose. Thermostable xylanases have been a focus of attention as industrially important enzymes due to their long shelf life at high temperatures. Geobacillus sp. strain WSUCF1 produced thermostable xylanase activity (crude xylanase cocktail) when grown on xylan or various inexpensive untreated and pretreated lignocellulosic biomasses such as prairie cord grass and corn stover. The optimum pH and temperature for the crude xylanase cocktail were 6.5 and 70°C, respectively. The WSUCF1 crude xylanase was found to be highly thermostable with half-lives of 18 and 12 days at 60 and 70°C, respectively. At 70°C, rates of xylan hydrolysis were also found to be better with the WSUCF1 secretome than those with commercial enzymes, i.e., for WSUCF1 crude xylanase, Cellic-HTec2, and AccelleraseXY, the percent xylan conversions were 68.9, 49.4, and 28.92, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, WSUCF1 crude xylanase cocktail is among the most thermostable xylanases produced by thermophilic Geobacillus spp. and other thermophilic microbes (optimum growth temperature ≤70°C). High thermostability, activity over wide range of temperatures, and better xylan hydrolysis than commercial enzymes make WSUCF1 crude xylanase suitable for thermophilic lignocellulose bioconversion processes.
PMCID: PMC4468944  PMID: 26137456
biofuels; corn stover; xylanase; prairie cord grass; thermostable; untreated lignocellulose
22.  Characterization of a thermostable β-glucosidase from Aspergillus fumigatus Z5, and its functional expression in Pichia pastoris X33 
Recently, the increased demand of energy has strongly stimulated the research on the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into reducing sugars for the subsequent production, and β-glucosidases have been the focus because of their important roles in a variety fundamental biological processes and the synthesis of useful β-glucosides. Although the β-glucosidases of different sources have been investigated, the amount of β-glucosidases are insufficient for effective conversion of cellulose. The goal of this work was to search for new resources of β-glucosidases, which was thermostable and with high catalytic efficiency.
In this study, a thermostable native β-glucosidase (nBgl3), which is secreted by the lignocellulose-decomposing fungus Aspergillus fumigatus Z5, was purified to electrophoretic homogeneity. Internal sequences of nBgl3 were obtained by LC-MS/MS, and its encoding gene, bgl3, was cloned based on the peptide sequences obtained from the LC-MS/MS results. bgl3 contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 2622 bp and encodes a protein with a predicted molecular weight of 91.47 kDa; amino acid sequence analysis of the deduced protein indicated that nBgl3 is a member of the glycoside hydrolase family 3. A recombinant β-glucosidase (rBgl3) was obtained by the functional expression of bgl3 in Pichia pastoris X33. Several biochemical properties of purified nBgl3 and rBgl3 were determined - both enzymes showed optimal activity at pH 6.0 and 60°C, and they were stable for a pH range of 4-7 and a temperature range of 50 to 70°C. Of the substrates tested, nBgl3 and rBgl3 displayed the highest activity toward 4-Nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (pNPG), with specific activities of 103.5 ± 7.1 and 101.7 ± 5.2 U mg-1, respectively. However, these enzymes were inactive toward carboxymethyl cellulose, lactose and xylan.
An native β-glucosidase nBgl3 was purified to electrophoretic homogeneity from the crude extract of A. fumigatus Z5. The gene bgl3 was cloned based on the internal sequences of nBgl3 obtained from the LC-MS/MS results, and the gene bgl3 was expressed in Pichia pastoris X33. The results of various biochemical properties of two enzymes including specific activity, pH stability, thermostability, and kinetic properties (Km and Vmax) indicated that they had no significant differences.
PMCID: PMC3312866  PMID: 22340848
23.  Cloning, expression in Pichia pastoris, and characterization of a thermostable GH5 mannan endo-1,4-β-mannosidase from Aspergillus niger BK01 
Mannans are key components of lignocellulose present in the hemicellulosic fraction of plant primary cell walls. Mannan endo-1,4-β-mannosidases (1,4-β-D-mannanases) catalyze the random hydrolysis of β-1,4-mannosidic linkages in the main chain of β-mannans. Biodegradation of β-mannans by the action of thermostable mannan endo-1,4-β-mannosidase offers significant technical advantages in biotechnological industrial applications, i.e. delignification of kraft pulps or the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass rich in mannan for the production of second generation biofuels, as well as for applications in oil and gas well stimulation, extraction of vegetable oils and coffee beans, and the production of value-added products such as prebiotic manno-oligosaccharides (MOS).
A gene encoding mannan endo-1,4-β-mannosidase or 1,4-β-D-mannan mannanohydrolase (E.C., commonly termed β-mannanase, from Aspergillus niger BK01, which belongs to glycosyl hydrolase family 5 (GH5), was cloned and successfully expressed heterologously (up to 243 μg of active recombinant protein per mL) in Pichia pastoris. The enzyme was secreted by P. pastoris and could be collected from the culture supernatant. The purified enzyme appeared glycosylated as a single band on SDS-PAGE with a molecular mass of approximately 53 kDa. The recombinant β-mannanase is highly thermostable with a half-life time of approximately 56 h at 70°C and pH 4.0. The optimal temperature (10-min assay) and pH value for activity are 80°C and pH 4.5, respectively. The enzyme is not only active towards structurally different mannans but also exhibits low activity towards birchwood xylan. Apparent Km values of the enzyme for konjac glucomannan (low viscosity), locust bean gum galactomannan, carob galactomannan (low viscosity), and 1,4-β-D-mannan (from carob) are 0.6 mg mL-1, 2.0 mg mL-1, 2.2 mg mL-1 and 1.5 mg mL-1, respectively, while the kcat values for these substrates are 215 s-1, 330 s-1, 292 s-1 and 148 s-1, respectively. Judged from the specificity constants kcat/Km, glucomannan is the preferred substrate of the A. niger β -mannanase. Analysis by thin layer chromatography showed that the main product from enzymatic hydrolysis of locust bean gum is mannobiose, with only low amounts of mannotriose and higher manno-oligosaccharides formed.
This study is the first report on the cloning and expression of a thermostable mannan endo-1,4-β-mannosidase from A. niger in Pichia pastoris. The efficient expression and ease of purification will significantly decrease the production costs of this enzyme. Taking advantage of its acidic pH optimum and high thermostability, this recombinant β-mannanase will be valuable in various biotechnological applications.
PMCID: PMC2780388  PMID: 19912637
24.  Characterization of β-Glucosidase Produced by Aspergillus niger under Solid-State Fermentation and Partially Purified Using MANAE-Agarose 
β-Glucosidase (BGL) is a hydrolytic enzyme with specificity for a wide variety of glycoside substrates, being an enzyme with a large range of biotechnological applications. However, enzyme properties can be different depending both on the microorganism and the cultivation procedure employed. Therefore, in order to explore potential biocatalytical applications of novel enzymes, their characterization is essential. In this work, a BGL synthesized by a selected strain of Aspergillus niger cultivated under solid-state fermentation (SSF) was partially purified and fully characterized in terms of optimum pH, temperature, and thermostability. The single-step purification using MANAE-agarose in a chromatographic column yielded an enzyme solution with specific activity (17.1 IU/mg protein) adequate for the characterization procedures. Electrophoresis SDS-PAGE and size-exclusion chromatography analysis resulted in an estimated molecular mass of 60 kDa. Higher enzyme activities were found in the range between 40 and 65°C and between pH 4 and 5.5, indicating an interesting characteristic for application in the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuels production. Thermostability studies of purified BGL resulted in half-lives at 37°C of 56.3 h and at 50°C of 5.4 h. These results provide support for further studies of this enzyme towards revealing its potential biotechnological applications.
PMCID: PMC3988745  PMID: 24940510
25.  Investigating the Function of an Arabinan Utilization Locus Isolated from a Termite Gut Community 
Biocatalysts are essential for the development of bioprocesses efficient for plant biomass degradation. Previously, a metagenomic clone containing DNA from termite gut microbiota was pinpointed in a functional screening that revealed the presence of arabinofuranosidase activity. Subsequent genetic and bioinformatic analysis revealed that the DNA fragment belonged to a member of the genus Bacteroides and encoded 19 open reading frames (ORFs), and annotation suggested the presence of hypothetical transporter and regulator proteins and others involved in the catabolism of pentose sugar. In this respect and considering the phenotype of the metagenomic clone, it was noted that among the ORFs, there are four putative arabinose-specific glycoside hydrolases, two from family GH43 and two from GH51. In this study, a thorough bioinformatics analysis of the metagenomic clone gene cluster has been performed and the four aforementioned glycoside hydrolases have been characterized. Together, the results provide evidence that the gene cluster is a polysaccharide utilization locus dedicated to the breakdown of the arabinan component in pectin and related substrates. Characterization of the two GH43 and the two GH51 glycoside hydrolases has revealed that each of these enzymes displays specific catalytic capabilities and that when these are combined the enzymes act synergistically, increasing the efficiency of arabinan degradation.
PMCID: PMC4272722  PMID: 25304507

Results 1-25 (909095)