Navigation Links
Lignin-feasting microbe holds promise for biofuels

Nature designed lignin, the tough woody polymer in the walls of plant cells, to bind and protect the cellulose sugars that plants use for energy. For this reason, lignin is a major challenge for those who would extract those same plant sugars and use them to make advanced biofuels. As part of their search for economic ways to overcome the lignin challenge, researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have characterized the enzymatic activity of a rain forest microbe that breaks down lignin essentially by breathing it.

"Using a combination of transcriptomics and proteomics we observed the anaerobe Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1 as it grows on lignin," says Blake Simmons, a chemical engineer who heads JBEI's Deconstruction Division. "We detected significant lignin degradation over time by absorbance, suggesting that enzymes in E. lignolyticus could be used to deconstruct lignin and improve biofuels production. Our results also demonstrate the value of a multi-omics approach for providing insight into the natural processes of bacterial lignin decomposition."

Not only does lignin inhibit access to cellulose, the by-products of lignin degradation can also be toxic to microbes employed to ferment sugars into fuels. This makes finding microbes that can tolerate a lignin environment a priority for biofuels research. Tropical rainforests harbor anaerobic microbes that actually utilize lignin as their sole source of carbon. Kristen DeAngelis, a microbial ecologist formerly of JBEI and now with the University of Massachusetts, has led expeditions to the Luquillo Experimental Forest where she and her crew harvested soil microbes.

"Tropical soil microbes are responsible for the nearly complete decomposition of leaf plant litter in as little as eighteen months," she says. "The fast growth, high efficiency and specificity of enzymes employed in the anaerobic litter deconstruction carried out by these tropical soil bacteria make them useful templates for improving biofuel production."

In an earlier study at JBEI led by DeAngelis, E. lignolyticus SCF1 is a member, was shown to be capable of anaerobic lignin degradation, but the enzymes behind this degradation were unknown. Through their multi-omics approach plus measurements of enzyme activities, DeAngelis, Simmons and their colleagues were able to characterize the mechanisms by which E. lignolyticus SCF1 is able to degrade lignin during anaerobic growth conditions.

"We found that E. lignolyticus SCF1 is capable of degrading 56-percent of the lignin under anaerobic conditions within 48 hours, with increased cell abundance in lignin-amended compared to unamended growth," Simmons says. "Proteomics analysis enabled us to identify 229 proteins that were significantly differentially abundant between the lignin-amended and unamended growth conditions. Of these, 127 proteins were at least two-fold up-regulated in the presence of lignin."

This new study also showed that E. lignolyticus SCF1 is able to degrade lignin via both assimilatory and dissimilatory pathways, the first soil bacterium to demonstrate this dual capability.

"Our next step is to look at what kind of chemical bonds are preferred by these two different pathways of reduction," DeAngelis says. "We can then try to develop tailored routes to targeted intermediates by defining the molecular mechanisms of enzymatic reactions with lignin."


Contact: Lynn Yarris
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Montana State team overcomes challenges, proves that microbes swim to hydrogen gas
2. UNH, UC Davis launch network to study environmental microbes
3. Network to study environmental microbes
4. Microbes in the gut help determine risk of tumors
5. Penn researchers identify molecular link between gut microbes and intestinal health
6. Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues
7. Toxic methylmercury-producing microbes more widespread than realized
8. Scientists discover thriving colonies of microbes in ocean plastisphere
9. New palm-sized microarray technique grows 1,200 individual cultures of microbes
10. Engineered microbes grow in the dark
11. Microbes capture, store, and release nitrogen to feed reef-building coral
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Lignin-feasting microbe holds promise for biofuels
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , April ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of ... today announced a partnership to integrate the Onegini ...      (Logo: ) ... their customers enhanced security to access and transact ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... -- The new GEZE SecuLogic access control ... system solution for all door components. It can be ... interface with integration authorization management system, and thus fulfills ... dimensions of the access control and the optimum integration ... considerable freedom of design with regard to the doors. ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... DUBLIN , April 15, 2016 ... of the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report ... ) , ,The global gait ... CAGR of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... movement angles, which can be used to compute ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Alex,s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), ... it will open a state-of-the-art bioinformatics lab, using ,big ... This announcement comes as Liz Scott , co-executive ... Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C. ... a participant and advocate of pediatric cancer research and ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes ... through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes ... cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other ... and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the ... increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in developing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ON , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. ... has been advised by its major shareholders, Clean Technology ... United States based venture capital ... shares of Biorem (on a fully diluted, as converted ... the disposition of their entire equity holdings in Biorem ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... healthier lives through the development of innovative products and ... the United States denied its petition ... claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 Patent") ... established by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services v. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: