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.
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.
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.
Throughout immeasurable time, microorganisms evolved and accumulated remarkable physiological and functional heterogeneity, and now constitute the major reserve for genetic diversity on earth. Using metagenomics, namely genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples, this biogenetic diversification can be accessed without the need to cultivate cells. Accordingly, microbial communities and their metagenomes, isolated from biotopes with high turnover rates of recalcitrant biomass, such as lignocellulosic plant cell walls, have become a major resource for bioprospecting; furthermore, this material is a major asset in the search for new biocatalytics (enzymes) for various industrial processes, including the production of biofuels from plant feedstocks. However, despite the contributions from metagenomics technologies consequent upon the discovery of novel enzymes, this relatively new enterprise requires major improvements. In this review, we compare function-based metagenome screening and sequence-based metagenome data mining, discussing the advantages and limitations of both methods. We also describe the unusual enzymes discovered via metagenomics approaches, and discuss the future prospects for metagenome technologies.
To efficiently deconstruct recalcitrant plant biomass to fermentable sugars in industrial processes, biocatalysts of higher performance and lower cost are required. The genetic diversity found in the metagenomes of natural microbial biomass decay communities may harbor such enzymes. Our goal was to discover and characterize new glycoside hydrolases (GHases) from microbial biomass decay communities, especially those from unknown or never previously cultivated microorganisms.
From the metagenome sequences of an anaerobic microbial community actively decaying poplar biomass, we identified approximately 4,000 GHase homologs. Based on homology to GHase families/activities of interest and the quality of the sequences, candidates were selected for full-length cloning and subsequent expression. As an alternative strategy, a metagenome expression library was constructed and screened for GHase activities. These combined efforts resulted in the cloning of four novel GHases that could be successfully expressed in Escherichia coli. Further characterization showed that two enzymes showed significant activity on p-nitrophenyl-α-L-arabinofuranoside, one enzyme had significant activity against p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, and one enzyme showed significant activity against p-nitrophenyl-β-D-xylopyranoside. Enzymes were also tested in the presence of ionic liquids.
Metagenomics provides a good resource for mining novel biomass degrading enzymes and for screening of cellulolytic enzyme activities. The four GHases that were cloned may have potential application for deconstruction of biomass pretreated with ionic liquids, as they remain active in the presence of up to 20% ionic liquid (except for 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium diethyl phosphate). Alternatively, ionic liquids might be used to immobilize or stabilize these enzymes for minimal solvent processing of biomass.
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.
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.
Thermoascus aurantiacus; Thielavia terrestris; GH 61; Polysaccharide monooxygenases; Fungal secretome; Ammonia fiber expansion; Ionic liquid; 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate; Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
Metagenomics has been widely employed for discovery of new enzymes and pathways to conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals. In this context, the present study reports the isolation, recombinant expression, biochemical and structural characterization of a novel endoxylanase family GH10 (SCXyl) identified from sugarcane soil metagenome. The recombinant SCXyl was highly active against xylan from beechwood and showed optimal enzyme activity at pH 6,0 and 45°C. The crystal structure was solved at 2.75 Å resolution, revealing the classical (β/α)8-barrel fold with a conserved active-site pocket and an inherent flexibility of the Trp281-Arg291 loop that can adopt distinct conformational states depending on substrate binding. The capillary electrophoresis analysis of degradation products evidenced that the enzyme displays unusual capacity to degrade small xylooligosaccharides, such as xylotriose, which is consistent to the hydrophobic contacts at the +1 subsite and low-binding energies of subsites that are distant from the site of hydrolysis. The main reaction products from xylan polymers and phosphoric acid-pretreated sugarcane bagasse (PASB) were xylooligosaccharides, but, after a longer incubation time, xylobiose and xylose were also formed. Moreover, the use of SCXyl as pre-treatment step of PASB, prior to the addition of commercial cellulolytic cocktail, significantly enhanced the saccharification process. All these characteristics demonstrate the advantageous application of this enzyme in several biotechnological processes in food and feed industry and also in the enzymatic pretreatment of biomass for feedstock and ethanol production.
Lignocellulosic biomass remains a largely untapped source of renewable energy predominantly due to its recalcitrance and an incomplete understanding of how this is overcome in nature. We present here a compositional and comparative analysis of metagenomic data pertaining to a natural biomass-converting ecosystem adapted to austere arctic nutritional conditions, namely the rumen microbiome of Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus). Community analysis showed that deeply-branched cellulolytic lineages affiliated to the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes are dominant, whilst sequence binning methods facilitated the assemblage of metagenomic sequence for a dominant and novel Bacteroidales clade (SRM-1). Analysis of unassembled metagenomic sequence as well as metabolic reconstruction of SRM-1 revealed the presence of multiple polysaccharide utilization loci-like systems (PULs) as well as members of more than 20 glycoside hydrolase and other carbohydrate-active enzyme families targeting various polysaccharides including cellulose, xylan and pectin. Functional screening of cloned metagenome fragments revealed high cellulolytic activity and an abundance of PULs that are rich in endoglucanases (GH5) but devoid of other common enzymes thought to be involved in cellulose degradation. Combining these results with known and partly re-evaluated metagenomic data strongly indicates that much like the human distal gut, the digestive system of herbivores harbours high numbers of deeply branched and as-yet uncultured members of the Bacteroidetes that depend on PUL-like systems for plant biomass degradation.
Cold-active enzymes, sourced from cold-adapted organisms, are characterized by high catalytic efficiencies at low temperatures compared with their mesophilic counterparts, which have poor activity. This property makes them advantageous for biotechnology applications as it: (i) saves energy costs, (ii) shortens the times for processes operated at low temperatures, (iii) protects thermosensitive substrates or products of the enzymatic reaction, (iv) prevents undesired chemical transformations, and (v) prevents the loss of volatile compounds.
A bglMKg gene that encodes a monomeric cold-active glycoside hydrolase family 1 enzyme with an apparent molecular mass of 50 kDa was isolated by the functional screening of a marine metagenomic library. The BglMKg enzyme was expressed in E. coli, purified by FPLC and characterized. The recombinant BglMKg could effectively hydrolyze various chromogenic substrates and β-linked oligosaccharides, and had remarkably high β-galactosidase, β-glucosidase and β-fucosidase activities. Because of the lack of information about the usefulness of β-fucosidases in industry, further characterization of the enzymatic properties of BglMKg was only carried out with substrates specific for β-glucosidase or β-galactosidase. The BglMKg had maximal β-galactosidase and β-glucosidase activities at approximately 40°C and 45°C, respectively. The optimum pH for β-galactosidase activity was 6.5, whereas the optimum pH for β-glucosidase activity was 7.5. In general, the enzyme was stable below 30°C and from pHs 6.0 to 8.0. The results of the kinetic studies revealed that BglMKg more efficiently hydrolyzed β-glucosidase substrates than β-galactosidase ones.
BglMKg is a small, monomeric, cold-active β-glucosidase with additional enzymatic activities. It was efficiently expressed in E. coli indicating that BglMKg might be a candidate for industrial applications.
Metagenomics; Cold-active enzyme; β-galactosidase; β-glucosidase; β-fucosidase
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.
Generating biofuel crops with higher biomass and bioethanol yield is inevitable to meet growing demands of renewable energy. Manipulation of phytohormone-related genes that control plant architecture via biotechnological and functional genomics tools adapted from model species will accelerate crop improvement.
Biofuels hold the promise to replace an appreciable proportion of fossil fuels. Not only do they emit significantly lower amounts of greenhouse gases, they are much closer to being ‘carbon neutral’, since the source plants utilize carbon dioxide for their growth. In particular, second-generation lignocellulosic biofuels from agricultural wastes and non-food crops such as switchgrass promise sustainability and avoid diverting food crops to fuel. Currently, available lignocellulosic biomass could yield sufficient bioethanol to replace ∼10 % of worldwide petroleum use. Increasing the biomass used for biofuel production and the yield of bioethanol will thus help meet global energy demands while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We discuss the advantages of various biotechnological approaches to improve crops and highlight the contribution of genomics and functional genomics in this field. Current knowledge concerning plant hormones and their intermediates involved in the regulation of plant architecture is presented with a special focus on gibberellins and cytokinins, and their signalling intermediates. We highlight the potential of information gained from model plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana and rice (Oryza sativa) to accelerate improvement of fuel crops.
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.
Due to its capacity to produce large amounts of cellulases, Trichoderma reesei is increasingly been researched in various fields of white biotechnology, especially in biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass. The commercial enzyme mixtures produced at industrial scales are not well characterized, and their proteinaceous components are poorly identified and quantified. The development of proteomic methods has made it possible to comprehensively overview the enzymes involved in lignocellulosic biomass degradation which are secreted under various environmental conditions.
The protein composition of the secretome produced by industrial T. reesei (strain CL847) grown on a medium promoting the production of both cellulases and hemicellulases was explored using two-dimensional electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF or LC-MS/MS protein identification. A total of 22 protein species were identified. As expected, most of them are potentially involved in biomass degradation. The 2D map obtained was then used to compare the secretomes produced by CL847 and another efficient cellulolytic T. reesei strain, Rut-C30, the reference cellulase-overproducing strain using lactose as carbon source and inducer of cellulases.
This study provides the most complete mapping of the proteins secreted by T. reesei to date. We report on the first use of proteomics to compare secretome composition between two cellulase-overproducing strains Rut-C30 and CL847 grown under similar conditions. Comparison of protein patterns in both strains highlighted many unexpected differences between cellulase cocktails. The results demonstrate that 2D electrophoresis is a promising tool for studying cellulase production profiles, whether for industrial characterization of an entire secretome or for a more fundamental study on cellulase expression at genome-wide scale.
The enzyme 6-phospho-β-glucosidase is an important member of the glycoside hydrolase family 1 (GH1). However, its catalytic mechanisms, especially the key residues determining substrate specificity and affinity, are poorly understood. A metagenome-derived gene sequence, encoding a novel 6-phospho-β-glucosidase designated Pbgl25-217, was isolated and characterized. The optimal conditions for enzymatic activity were 37°C and pH 7; Ca2+, Mg2+, and Mn2+ stabilized the activity of Pbgl25-217, whereas Ni2+, Fe2+, Zn2+, Cu2+, and Fe3+ inhibited its activity. The Km and Vmax of Pbgl25-217 were 4.8 mM and 1,987.0 U mg−1, respectively. Seven conserved residues were recognized by multiple alignments and were tested by site-directed mutagenesis for their functions in substrate recognition and catalytic reaction. The results suggest that residues S427, Lys435, and Tyr437 act as “gatekeepers” in a phosphate-binding loop and play important roles in phosphate recognition. This functional identification may provide insights into the specificity of 6-phospho-β-glycosidases in GH1 and be useful for designing further directed evolution.
Biofuels produced from biomass are considered to be promising sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. The conversion of lignocellulose into fermentable sugars for biofuels production requires the use of enzyme cocktails that can efficiently and economically hydrolyze lignocellulosic biomass. As many fungi naturally break down lignocellulose, the identification and characterization of the enzymes involved is a key challenge in the research and development of biomass-derived products and fuels. One approach to meeting this challenge is to mine the rapidly-expanding repertoire of microbial genomes for enzymes with the appropriate catalytic properties.
Semantic technologies, including natural language processing, ontologies, semantic Web services and Web-based collaboration tools, promise to support users in handling complex data, thereby facilitating knowledge-intensive tasks. An ongoing challenge is to select the appropriate technologies and combine them in a coherent system that brings measurable improvements to the users. We present our ongoing development of a semantic infrastructure in support of genomics-based lignocellulose research. Part of this effort is the automated curation of knowledge from information on fungal enzymes that is available in the literature and genome resources.
Working closely with fungal biology researchers who manually curate the existing literature, we developed ontological natural language processing pipelines integrated in a Web-based interface to assist them in two main tasks: mining the literature for relevant knowledge, and at the same time providing rich and semantically linked information.
Termites are well-known cellulose decomposers and can give researchers insights into how to utilize lignocellulosic biomass in the actual scenario of energy consumption. In this work, an endogenous β-glucosidase from the midgut of the higher termite Nasutitermes takasagoensis was purified to homogeneity by Ni2+ affinity chromatography and its properties were characterized. This β-glucosidase (G1mgNtBG1), which belongs to glycoside hydrolase family 1, is a homotrimer in its native form, with a molecular mass of 169.5 kDa, as demonstrated by gel filtration chromatography. The enzyme displayed maximum activity at pH 5.5 and had broad substrate specificities toward several saccharides, including cellobiose. G1mgNtBG1 showed a relatively high temperature optimum of 65°C and one of the highest levels of glucose tolerance among several β-glucosidases already characterized, with a Ki of 600 mM glucose. To examine the applicability of G1mgNtBG1 in biomass conversion, we compared the thermostability and glucose tolerance of G1mgNtBG1 with those of Novozym 188. We found that G1mgNtBG1 was more thermostable after 5 h of incubation at 60°C and more resistant to glucose inhibition than Novozym 188. Furthermore, our result suggests that G1mgNtBG1 acts synergistically with Celluclast 1.5 L in releasing reducing sugars from Avicel. Thus, G1mgNtBG1 seems to be a potential candidate for use as a supplement in the hydrolysis of biomass.
The use of lignocellulosic materials for second generation ethanol production would give several advantages such as minimizing the conflict between land use for food and fuel production, providing less expensive raw materials than conventional agricultural feedstock, allowing lower greenhouse gas emissions than those of first generation ethanol. However, cellulosic biofuels are not produced at a competitive level yet, mainly because of the high production costs of the cellulolytic enzymes. Therefore, this study was aimed at discovering new cellulolytic microorganisms and enzymes.
Different bacteria isolated from raw composting materials obtained from vegetable processing industry wastes were screened for their cellulolytic activity on solid medium containing carboxymethylcellulose. Four strains belonging to the actinomycetes group were selected on the basis of their phenotypic traits and cellulolytic activity on solid medium containing carboxymethylcellulose. The strain showing the highest cellulolytic activity was identified by 16S rRNA sequencing as belonging to Streptomyces genus and it was designated as Streptomyces sp. strain G12. Investigating the enzymes responsible for cellulase activity produced by Streptomyces G12 by proteomic analyses, two endoglucanases were identified. Gene coding for one of these enzymes, named CelStrep, was cloned and sequenced. Molecular analysis showed that the celstrep gene has an open reading frame encoding a protein of 379 amino acid residues, including a signal peptide of 37 amino acid residues. Comparison of deduced aminoacidic sequence to the other cellulases indicated that the enzyme CelStrep can be classified as a family 12 glycoside hydrolase. Heterologous recombinant expression of CelStrep was carried out in Escherichia coli, and the active recombinant enzyme was purified from culture supernatant and characterized. It catalyzes the hydrolysis of carboxymethylcellulose following a Michaelis–Menten kinetics with a KM of 9.13 mg/ml and a vmax of 3469 μM min-1. The enzyme exhibits a half life of around 24 h and 96 h at 60°C and 50°C, respectively and shows a retention of around 80% of activity after 96 h at 40°C.
In this manuscript, we describe the isolation of a new cellulolytic strain, Streptomyces sp. G12, from industrial waste based compost, the identification of the enzymes putatively responsible for its cellulolytic activity, the cloning and the recombinant expression of the gene coding for the Streptomyces sp. G12 cellulase CelStrep, that was characterized showing to exhibit a relevant thermoresistance increasing its potential for cellulose conversion.
Streptomyces; Cellulases; Recombinant expression
Lignocellulosic biomass is one of the most promising renewable and clean energy resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. However, the resistance to accessibility of sugars embedded in plant cell walls (so-called recalcitrance) is a major barrier to economically viable cellulosic ethanol production. A recent report from the US National Academy of Sciences indicated that, “absent technological breakthroughs”, it was unlikely that the US would meet the congressionally mandated renewable fuel standard of 35 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent biofuels plus 1 billion gallons of biodiesel by 2022. We here describe the properties of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) biomass that has been genetically engineered to increase the cellulosic ethanol yield by more than 2-fold.
We have increased the cellulosic ethanol yield from switchgrass by 2.6-fold through overexpression of the transcription factor PvMYB4. This strategy reduces carbon deposition into lignin and phenolic fermentation inhibitors while maintaining the availability of potentially fermentable soluble sugars and pectic polysaccharides. Detailed biomass characterization analyses revealed that the levels and nature of phenolic acids embedded in the cell-wall, the lignin content and polymer size, lignin internal linkage levels, linkages between lignin and xylans/pectins, and levels of wall-bound fucose are all altered in PvMYB4-OX lines. Genetically engineered PvMYB4-OX switchgrass therefore provides a novel system for further understanding cell wall recalcitrance.
Our results have demonstrated that overexpression of PvMYB4, a general transcriptional repressor of the phenylpropanoid/lignin biosynthesis pathway, can lead to very high yield ethanol production through dramatic reduction of recalcitrance. MYB4-OX switchgrass is an excellent model system for understanding recalcitrance, and provides new germplasm for developing switchgrass cultivars as biomass feedstocks for biofuel production.
Switchgrass; Bioenergy; Biofuel; Feedstock; Cellulosic ethanol; PvMYB4; Transcription factor; Cell wall; Recalcitrance; Lignin; Hemicellulose; Pectin
Lignocellulosic materials have been moved towards the forefront of the biofuel industry as a sustainable resource. However, saccharification and the production of bioproducts derived from plant cell wall biomass are complex and lengthy processes. The understanding of termite gut biology and feeding strategies may improve the current state of biomass conversion technology and bioproduct production.
The study herein shows comprehensive functional characterization of crude body extracts from Coptotermes gestroi along with global proteomic analysis of the termite's digestome, targeting the identification of glycoside hydrolases and accessory proteins responsible for plant biomass conversion. The crude protein extract from C. gestroi was enzymatically efficient over a broad pH range on a series of natural polysaccharides, formed by glucose-, xylose-, mannan- and/or arabinose-containing polymers, linked by various types of glycosidic bonds, as well as ramification types. Our proteomic approach successfully identified a large number of relevant polypeptides in the C. gestroi digestome. A total of 55 different proteins were identified and classified into 29 CAZy families. Based on the total number of peptides identified, the majority of components found in the C. gestroi digestome were cellulose-degrading enzymes. Xylanolytic enzymes, mannan- hydrolytic enzymes, pectinases and starch-degrading and debranching enzymes were also identified. Our strategy enabled validation of liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry recognized proteins, by enzymatic functional assays and by following the degradation products of specific 8-amino-1,3,6-pyrenetrisulfonic acid labeled oligosaccharides through capillary zone electrophoresis.
Here we describe the first global study on the enzymatic repertoire involved in plant polysaccharide degradation by the lower termite C. gestroi. The biochemical characterization of whole body termite extracts evidenced their ability to cleave all types of glycosidic bonds present in plant polysaccharides. The comprehensive proteomic analysis, revealed a complete collection of hydrolytic enzymes including cellulases (GH1, GH3, GH5, GH7, GH9 and CBM 6), hemicellulases (GH2, GH10, GH11, GH16, GH43 and CBM 27) and pectinases (GH28 and GH29).
To improve the enzymatic hydrolysis (saccharification) of lignocellulosic biomass by Trichoderma reesei, a set of genes encoding putative polysaccharide-degrading enzymes were selected from the coprophilic fungus Podospora anserina using comparative genomics. Five hemicellulase-encoding genes were successfully cloned and expressed as secreted functional proteins in the yeast Pichia pastoris. These novel fungal CAZymes belonging to different glycoside hydrolase families (PaMan5A and PaMan26A mannanases, PaXyn11A xylanase, and PaAbf51A and PaAbf62A arabinofuranosidases) were able to break down their predicted cognate substrates. Although PaMan5A and PaMan26A displayed similar specificities toward a range of mannan substrates, they differed in their end products, suggesting differences in substrate binding. The N-terminal CBM35 module of PaMan26A displayed dual binding specificity toward xylan and mannan. PaXyn11A harboring a C-terminal CBM1 module efficiently degraded wheat arabinoxylan, releasing mainly xylobiose as end product. PaAbf51A and PaAbf62A arabinose-debranching enzymes exhibited differences in activity toward arabinose-containing substrates. Further investigation of the contribution made by each P. anserina auxiliary enzyme to the saccharification of wheat straw and spruce demonstrated that the endo-acting hemicellulases (PaXyn11A, PaMan5A, and PaMan26A) individually supplemented the secretome of the industrial T. reesei CL847 strain. The most striking effect was obtained with PaMan5A that improved the release of total sugars by 28% and of glucose by 18%, using spruce as lignocellulosic substrate.
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.
Thermophilic cellulases and hemicellulases are of significant interest to the biofuel industry due to their perceived advantages over their mesophilic counterparts. We describe here biochemical and mutational analyses of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii Cel9B/Man5A (CbCel9B/Man5A), a highly thermophilic enzyme. As one of the highly secreted proteins of C. bescii, the enzyme is likely to be critical to nutrient acquisition by the bacterium. CbCel9B/Man5A is a modular protein composed of three carbohydrate-binding modules flanked at the N terminus and the C terminus by a glycoside hydrolase family 9 (GH9) module and a GH5 module, respectively. Based on truncational analysis of the polypeptide, the cellulase and mannanase activities within CbCel9B/Man5A were assigned to the N- and C-terminal modules, respectively. CbCel9B/Man5A and its truncational mutants, in general, exhibited a pH optimum of ∼5.5 and a temperature optimum of 85°C. However, at this temperature, thermostability was very low. After 24 h of incubation at 75°C, the wild-type protein maintained 43% activity, whereas a truncated mutant, TM1, maintained 75% activity. The catalytic efficiency with phosphoric acid swollen cellulose as a substrate for the wild-type protein was 7.2 s−1 ml/mg, and deleting the GH5 module led to a mutant (TM1) with a 2-fold increase in this kinetic parameter. Deletion of the GH9 module also increased the apparent kcat of the truncated mutant TM5 on several mannan-based substrates; however, a concomitant increase in the Km led to a decrease in the catalytic efficiencies on all substrates. These observations lead us to postulate that the two catalytic activities are coupled in the polypeptide.
Cellulose degrading enzymes have important functions in the biotechnology industry, including the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Anaerobes including Clostridium species organize cellulases and other glycosyl hydrolases into large complexes known as cellulosomes. In contrast, aerobic actinobacteria utilize systems comprised of independently acting enzymes, often with carbohydrate binding domains. Numerous actinobacterial genomes have become available through the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project. We identified putative cellulose-degrading enzymes belonging to families GH5, GH6, GH8, GH9, GH12, GH48, and GH51 in the genomes of eleven members of the actinobacteria. The eleven organisms were tested in several assays for cellulose degradation, and eight of the organisms showed evidence of cellulase activity. The three with the highest cellulase activity were Actinosynnema mirum, Cellulomonas flavigena, and Xylanimonas cellulosilytica. Cellobiose is known to induce cellulolytic enzymes in the model organism Thermobifida fusca, but only Nocardiopsis dassonvillei showed higher cellulolytic activity in the presence of cellobiose. In T. fusca, cellulases and a putative cellobiose ABC transporter are regulated by the transcriptional regulator CelR. Nine organisms appear to use the CelR site or a closely related binding site to regulate an ABC transporter. In some, CelR also regulates cellulases, while cellulases are controlled by different regulatory sites in three organisms. Mining of genome data for cellulose degradative enzymes followed by experimental verification successfully identified several actinobacteria species which were not previously known to degrade cellulose as cellulolytic organisms.
Several members of the glycoside hydrolase 61 (GH61) family of proteins have recently been shown to dramatically increase the breakdown of lignocellulosic biomass by microbial hydrolytic cellulases. However, purified GH61 proteins have neither demonstrable direct hydrolase activity on various polysaccharide or lignacious components of biomass nor an apparent hydrolase active site. Cellobiose dehydrogenase (CDH) is a secreted flavocytochrome produced by many cellulose-degrading fungi with no well-understood biological function. Here we demonstrate that the binary combination of Thermoascus aurantiacus GH61A (TaGH61A) and Humicola insolens CDH (HiCDH) cleaves cellulose into soluble, oxidized oligosaccharides. TaGH61A-HiCDH activity on cellulose is shown to be nonredundant with the activities of canonical endocellulase and exocellulase enzymes in microcrystalline cellulose cleavage, and while the combination of TaGH61A and HiCDH cleaves highly crystalline bacterial cellulose, it does not cleave soluble cellodextrins. GH61 and CDH proteins are coexpressed and secreted by the thermophilic ascomycete Thielavia terrestris in response to environmental cellulose, and the combined activities of T. terrestris GH61 and T. terrestris CDH are shown to synergize with T. terrestris cellulose hydrolases in the breakdown of cellulose. The action of GH61 and CDH on cellulose may constitute an important, but overlooked, biological oxidoreductive system that functions in microbial lignocellulose degradation and has applications in industrial biomass utilization.