U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

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Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea Finds More Cellulases
Published: June 18, 2012
Posted: August 20, 2012

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

Reference: Anderson, I., B. Abt, A. Lykidis, H.-P. Klenk, N. Kyrpides, and N. Ivanova. 2012. "Genomics of Aerobic Cellulose Utilization Systems in Actinobacteria," PLoS ONE 7(6), e39331. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039331. (Reference link)

Contact: Dan Drell, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4742
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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