New Cellulose Degrading Bacteria and Enzymes Isolated From High Temperature Compost


Current approaches for conversion of cellulosic biomass to biofuels rely on cocktails of cellulose degrading enzymes (i.e. cellulases) that are expensive, relatively inefficient, and not well adapted to industrial conditions. Researchers at Dartmouth College and the DOE Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) are exploring a variety of high temperature, cellulose rich environments to identify new microbes and enzyme systems with improved biomass deconstruction capabilities. They now report the discovery of genes encoding 48 new cellulase enzymes from microbes collected from a compost site with temperatures ranging from 52-72°C. Many of these genes, most of which originate from members of the bacterial class Clostridia, have substantial sequence variation from known cellulases and may have substantially different properties. In addition to providing promising new targets for developments as industrial biofuels production enzymes, these genes expand the database of cellulase gene sequences and will enable improvement of probes for discovery of additional cellulases in environmental samples.


J. A. Izquierdo, M. V. Sizova, & L. R. Lynd. 2010 “Diversity of Bacteria and Glycosyl Hydrolase Family 48 Genes in Cellulolytic Consortia Enriched from Thermophilic Biocompost” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76: 3545-3553.