Cellulose and hemicellulose, long cross-linked chains of simple five and six carbon sugars make up over 70% of the dry weight of plant biomass and are the starting material for production of a range of biofuels. Relatively few microorganisms are capable of breaking down these large, complex polymers, and those with the ability to consume multiple types of sugars are even rarer. Researchers at North Carolina State University affiliated with the DOE Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) at Oak Ridge National Lab have shown that the cellulose/hemicellulose degrading hot spring bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus can simultaneously consume a broad range of carbohydrates found in plant biomass derived sugars, producing hydrogen as a major end product. The ability of C. saccharolyticus to consume a broad range of biomass sugars and to grow at high temperatures (up 75°C) make it an attractive candidate for further development as a biofuel producing organism.
Reference: VanFossen, A.L., et al. 2009. "Carbohydrate Utilization Patterns for the Extremely Thermophilic Bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus Reveal Broad Growth Substrate Preferences," Applied & Environmental Microbiology 75, 7718-24.
Contact: Joseph Graber, SC-23.2, (301) 903-1239
SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
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