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

BER Research Highlights


Compost Microbes Adapted to Produce Switchgrass-Degrading Enzymes
Published: July 29, 2010
Posted: October 01, 2010

By incubating switchgrass with a mix of microbes isolated from compost, JBEI researchers provided the selective pressure needed to grow a new microbial community enriched with enzymes that degrade cell-wall polymers specific to switchgrass. The sample was incubated in a bioreactor for 31 days under typical composting conditions. Metagenomic sequencing of the switchgrass-adapted compost (SAC) community on day 31 was carried out to investigate the sample's diverse pool of glycoside hydrolases-enzymes that break bonds between carbohydrate molecules. The sample contained a high proportion of genes encoding enzymes that attack the branches and backbone of a major hemicellulose in grass cell walls. Analysis of the small-subunit ribosomal RNA (rRNA) isolated from the microbial community revealed dramatic changes in the community profile with more than a 20-fold increase for some bacterial populations in the SAC. Although metagenomic DNA sequence is highly fragmented, making isolation of full genes from complex communities difficult, two full-length genes for cellulose-degrading enzymes were discovered, synthesized, expressed in Escherichia coli, and tested for enzyme activity.

Reference: This research was reported in Allgaier, M., et al. 2010. "Targeted Discovery of Glycoside Hydrolases from a Switchgrass-Adapted Compost Community," PLoS One 5(1), e8812.

Contact: John Houghton, SC-23.2, (301) 903-8288
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER

 

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