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1.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Hydrogen- and Ethanol-Producing Bacterium Clostridium intestinale Strain URNW 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(5):e00871-13.
Here, we report the draft genome sequence of Clostridium intestinale strain URNW, which can convert biomass to useful products such as biofuels (hydrogen or ethanol) and other soluble end products.
PMCID: PMC3798459  PMID: 24136853
2.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Cellulolytic, Mesophilic, Anaerobic Bacterium Clostridium termitidis Strain CT1112 (DSM 5398) 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(3):e00281-13.
Here, we report the draft genome sequence of Clostridium termitidis strain CT1112 (DSM 5398), a mesophilic, cellulolytic bacterium that can utilize a variety of sugars, as well as pure cellulose, as a sole carbon source; it also synthesizes fermentation end products with potential industrial applications.
PMCID: PMC3662827  PMID: 23704187
3.  Draft Genome Sequence of Medium-Chain-Length Polyhydroxyalkanoate-Producing Pseudomonas putida Strain LS46 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(2):e00151-13.
We describe the draft genome sequence of Pseudomonas putida strain LS46, a novel isolate that synthesizes medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates. The draft genome of P. putida LS46 consists of approximately 5.86 million bp, with a G+C content of 61.69%. A total of 5,316 annotated genes and 5,219 coding sequences (CDS) were identified.
PMCID: PMC3630404  PMID: 23599293
4.  Genomic Evaluation of Thermoanaerobacter spp. for the Construction of Designer Co-Cultures to Improve Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59362.
The microbial production of ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass is a multi-component process that involves biomass hydrolysis, carbohydrate transport and utilization, and finally, the production of ethanol. Strains of the genus Thermoanaerobacter have been studied for decades due to their innate abilities to produce comparatively high ethanol yields from hemicellulose constituent sugars. However, their inability to hydrolyze cellulose, limits their usefulness in lignocellulosic biofuel production. As such, co-culturing Thermoanaerobacter spp. with cellulolytic organisms is a plausible approach to improving lignocellulose conversion efficiencies and yields of biofuels. To evaluate native lignocellulosic ethanol production capacities relative to competing fermentative end-products, comparative genomic analysis of 11 sequenced Thermoanaerobacter strains, including a de novo genome, Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus WC1, was conducted. Analysis was specifically focused on the genomic potential for each strain to address all aspects of ethanol production mentioned through a consolidated bioprocessing approach. Whole genome functional annotation analysis identified three distinct clades within the genus. The genomes of Clade 1 strains encode the fewest extracellular carbohydrate active enzymes and also show the least diversity in terms of lignocellulose relevant carbohydrate utilization pathways. However, these same strains reportedly are capable of directing a higher proportion of their total carbon flux towards ethanol, rather than non-biofuel end-products, than other Thermoanaerobacter strains. Strains in Clade 2 show the greatest diversity in terms of lignocellulose hydrolysis and utilization, but proportionately produce more non-ethanol end-products than Clade 1 strains. Strains in Clade 3, in which T. thermohydrosulfuricus WC1 is included, show mid-range potential for lignocellulose hydrolysis and utilization, but also exhibit extensive divergence from both Clade 1 and Clade 2 strains in terms of cellular energetics. The potential implications regarding strain selection and suitability for industrial ethanol production through a consolidated bioprocessing co-culturing approach are examined throughout the manuscript.
PMCID: PMC3608648  PMID: 23555660
5.  Linking genome content to biofuel production yields: a meta-analysis of major catabolic pathways among select H2 and ethanol-producing bacteria 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:295.
Fermentative bacteria offer the potential to convert lignocellulosic waste-streams into biofuels such as hydrogen (H2) and ethanol. Current fermentative H2 and ethanol yields, however, are below theoretical maxima, vary greatly among organisms, and depend on the extent of metabolic pathways utilized. For fermentative H2 and/or ethanol production to become practical, biofuel yields must be increased. We performed a comparative meta-analysis of (i) reported end-product yields, and (ii) genes encoding pyruvate metabolism and end-product synthesis pathways to identify suitable biomarkers for screening a microorganism’s potential of H2 and/or ethanol production, and to identify targets for metabolic engineering to improve biofuel yields. Our interest in H2 and/or ethanol optimization restricted our meta-analysis to organisms with sequenced genomes and limited branched end-product pathways. These included members of the Firmicutes, Euryarchaeota, and Thermotogae.
Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the absence of genes encoding acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and bifunctional acetaldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase (AdhE) in Caldicellulosiruptor, Thermococcus, Pyrococcus, and Thermotoga species coincide with high H2 yields and low ethanol production. Organisms containing genes (or activities) for both ethanol and H2 synthesis pathways (i.e. Caldanaerobacter subterraneus subsp. tengcongensis, Ethanoligenens harbinense, and Clostridium species) had relatively uniform mixed product patterns. The absence of hydrogenases in Geobacillus and Bacillus species did not confer high ethanol production, but rather high lactate production. Only Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus produced relatively high ethanol and low H2 yields. This may be attributed to the presence of genes encoding proteins that promote NADH production. Lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate:formate lyase are not conducive for ethanol and/or H2 production. While the type(s) of encoded hydrogenases appear to have little impact on H2 production in organisms that do not encode ethanol producing pathways, they do influence reduced end-product yields in those that do.
Here we show that composition of genes encoding pathways involved in pyruvate catabolism and end-product synthesis pathways can be used to approximate potential end-product distribution patterns. We have identified a number of genetic biomarkers for streamlining ethanol and H2 producing capabilities. By linking genome content, reaction thermodynamics, and end-product yields, we offer potential targets for optimization of either ethanol or H2 yields through metabolic engineering.
PMCID: PMC3561251  PMID: 23249097
6.  Proteomic analysis of Clostridium thermocellum core metabolism: relative protein expression profiles and growth phase-dependent changes in protein expression 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:214.
Clostridium thermocellum produces H2 and ethanol, as well as CO2, acetate, formate, and lactate, directly from cellulosic biomass. It is therefore an attractive model for biofuel production via consolidated bioprocessing. Optimization of end-product yields and titres is crucial for making biofuel production economically feasible. Relative protein expression profiles may provide targets for metabolic engineering, while understanding changes in protein expression and metabolism in response to carbon limitation, pH, and growth phase may aid in reactor optimization. We performed shotgun 2D-HPLC-MS/MS on closed-batch cellobiose-grown exponential phase C. thermocellum cell-free extracts to determine relative protein expression profiles of core metabolic proteins involved carbohydrate utilization, energy conservation, and end-product synthesis. iTRAQ (isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation) based protein quantitation was used to determine changes in core metabolic proteins in response to growth phase.
Relative abundance profiles revealed differential levels of putative enzymes capable of catalyzing parallel pathways. The majority of proteins involved in pyruvate catabolism and end-product synthesis were detected with high abundance, with the exception of aldehyde dehydrogenase, ferredoxin-dependent Ech-type [NiFe]-hydrogenase, and RNF-type NADH:ferredoxin oxidoreductase. Using 4-plex 2D-HPLC-MS/MS, 24% of the 144 core metabolism proteins detected demonstrated moderate changes in expression during transition from exponential to stationary phase. Notably, proteins involved in pyruvate synthesis decreased in stationary phase, whereas proteins involved in glycogen metabolism, pyruvate catabolism, and end-product synthesis increased in stationary phase. Several proteins that may directly dictate end-product synthesis patterns, including pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductases, alcohol dehydrogenases, and a putative bifurcating hydrogenase, demonstrated differential expression during transition from exponential to stationary phase.
Relative expression profiles demonstrate which proteins are likely utilized in carbohydrate utilization and end-product synthesis and suggest that H2 synthesis occurs via bifurcating hydrogenases while ethanol synthesis is predominantly catalyzed by a bifunctional aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase. Differences in expression profiles of core metabolic proteins in response to growth phase may dictate carbon and electron flux towards energy storage compounds and end-products. Combined knowledge of relative protein expression levels and their changes in response to physiological conditions may aid in targeted metabolic engineering strategies and optimization of fermentation conditions for improvement of biofuels production.
PMCID: PMC3492117  PMID: 22994686
7.  Pyruvate catabolism and hydrogen synthesis pathway genes of Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 
Indian Journal of Microbiology  2008;48(2):252-266.
Clostridium thermocellum is a gram-positive, acetogenic, thermophilic, anaerobic bacterium that degrades cellulose and carries out mixed product fermentation, catabolising cellulose to acetate, lactate, and ethanol under various growth conditions, with the concomitant release of H2 and CO2. Very little is known about the factors that determine metabolic fluxes influencing H2 synthesis in anaerobic, cellulolytic bacteria like C. thermocellum. We have begun to investigate the relationships between genome content, gene expression, and end-product synthesis in C. thermocellum cultured under different conditions. Using bioinformatics tools and the complete C. thermocellum 27405 genome sequence, we identified genes encoding key enzymes in pyruvate catabolism and H2-synthesis pathways, and have confirmed transcription of these genes throughout growth on α-cellulose by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Bioinformatic analyses revealed two putative lactate dehydrogenases, one pyruvate formate lyase, four pyruvate:formate lyase activating enzymes, and at least three putative pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (POR) or POR-like enzymes. Our data suggests that hydrogen may be generated through the action of either a Ferredoxin (Fd)-dependent NiFe hydrogenase, often referred to as “Energy-converting Hydrogenases”, or via NAD(P)Hdependent Fe-only hydrogenases which would permit H2 production from NADH generated during the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase reaction. Furthermore, our findings show the presence of a gene cluster putatively encoding a membrane integral NADH:Fd oxidoreductase, suggesting a possible mechanism in which electrons could be transferred between NADH and ferredoxin. The elucidation of pyruvate catabolism pathways and mechanisms of H2 synthesis is the first step in developing strategies to increase hydrogen yields from biomass. Our studies have outlined the likely pathways leading to hydrogen synthesis in C. thermocellum strain 27405, but the actual functional roles of these gene products during pyruvate catabolism and in H 2 synthesis remain to be elucidated, and will need to be confirmed using both expression analysis and protein characterization.
PMCID: PMC3450175  PMID: 23100718
Clostridium thermocellum; Fermentation; Cellulose; Hydrogen; Pyruvate catabolism
8.  Effect of pH on Intracellular Accumulation of Trace Concentrations of Hg(II) in Escherichia coli under Anaerobic Conditions, as Measured Using a mer-lux Bioreporter▿  
The effects of pH on the uptake and accumulation of Hg(II) by Escherichia coli were determined at trace, environmentally relevant, concentrations of Hg and under anaerobic conditions. Hg(II) accumulation was measured using inducible light production from E. coli HMS174 harboring a mer-lux bioreporter plasmid (pRB28). The effect of pH on the toxicity of higher concentrations of Hg(II) was measured using a constitutive lux plasmid (pRB27) in the same bacterial host. In this study, intracellular accumulation and toxicity of Hg(II) under anaerobic conditions were both significantly enhanced with decreasing pH over the pH range of 8 to 5. The pH effect on Hg(II) accumulation was most pronounced at pHs of <6, which substantially enhanced the Hg(II)-dependent light response. This enhanced response did not appear to be due to pH stress, as similar results were obtained whether cells were grown at the same pH as the assay or at a different pH. The enhanced accumulation of Hg(II) was also not related to differences in the chemical speciation of Hg(II) in the external medium resulting from the changes in pH. Experiments with Cd(II), also detectable by the mer-lux bioreporter system, showed that Cd(II) accumulation responded differently to pH changes than the net accumulation of Hg(II). Potential implications of these findings for our understanding of bacterial accumulation of Hg(II) under anaerobic conditions and for bacteria-mediated cycling of Hg(II) in aquatic ecosystems are discussed. Arguments are provided suggesting that this differential accumulation is due to changes in uptake of mercury.
PMCID: PMC2227699  PMID: 18083863
9.  Third Generation Biofuels via Direct Cellulose Fermentation 
Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is a system in which cellulase production, substrate hydrolysis, and fermentation are accomplished in a single process step by cellulolytic microorganisms. CBP offers the potential for lower biofuel production costs due to simpler feedstock processing, lower energy inputs, and higher conversion efficiencies than separate hydrolysis and fermentation processes, and is an economically attractive near-term goal for “third generation” biofuel production. In this review article, production of third generation biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks will be addressed in respect to the metabolism of cellulolytic bacteria and the development of strategies to increase biofuel yields through metabolic engineering.
PMCID: PMC2635718  PMID: 19325807
biofuels; ethanol; hydrogen; cellulose; fermentation
10.  Isolation and Ultrastructure of the Flagella of Methanococcus thermolithotrophicus and Methanospirillum hungatei 
The flagella of the archaebacteria Methanococcus thermolithotrophicus and Methanospirillum hungatei enter the cells in regions with ultrastructure resembling that of the polar organelles found in a variety of eubacteria. Flagella of both organisms consist of a filament, a hook, and a basal body with two rings similar to those of gram-positive eubacteria. The integrity of the flagella of M. thermolithotrophicus is lost in the absence of high salt concentrations, and those of both organisms are unstable at high pH. The flagellar filaments of M. hungatei are composed of two flagellins of 24 and 26 kilodaltons.
PMCID: PMC202880  PMID: 16347934

Results 1-10 (10)