June 2012

Encyclopedic Search for New Cellulases

A microbe not known for cellulose degradation has 15 cellulases that may improve biofuel production.

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Image courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Cellulolytic  assays of Actinobacteria (from Anderson I, Abt B, Lykidis A, Klenk H-P, Kyrpides N, et al. (2012) “Genomics of Aerobic Cellulose Utilization Systems in Actinobacteria”, PLoS ONE 7(6):e39331.

The Science

Genomes from eleven diverse strains of aerobic bacteria called Actinobacteria were sequenced and characterized for previously unknown cellulolytic activity.

The Impact

One organism, Catenulispora acidiphilia, previously unknown to break down cellulose, has 15 predicted cellulases and may be used in the future of biofuel production.

Summary

The biotechnology and biofuels industries are particularly interested in cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose, the most abundant organic compound on Earth and the component that makes up 33 percent of all plant matter. Cellulases from a group of aerobic bacteria called Actinobacteria are of special interest as sources of enzymes useful for biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass. They have distinct features and cellular organization when contrasted to those in anaerobic bacteria (such as the Clostridia). The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) has sequenced the genomes of eleven diverse strains of these bacteria. Comparative analysis using the JGI’s Integrated Microbial Genomes system followed by experimental verification identified eight cellulolytic Actinobacterial species that were not previously known to degrade cellulose. Of seven organisms tested, six showed activity in assays for cellulases. This work, conducted under the umbrella of the JGI’s Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project, broadens the repertoire of useful enzymes beyond those previously recognized.

Contact

Dr. Iain Anderson
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
IJAnderson@lbl.gov

Funding

Basic Research: DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Publications

Anderson I, Abt B, Lykidis A, Klenk H-P, Kyrpides N, et al. (2012) “Genomics of Aerobic Cellulose Utilization Systems in Actinobacteria”, PLoS ONE 7(6):e39331. [DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039331].

Highlight Categories

Program: BER, BSSD

Performer/Facility: University, DOE Laboratory, BER User Facilities, JGI

Last modified: 9/3/2013 12:11:21 PM