Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.97, No.20, 8941-8954, 2013
Comparative metagenomic analysis of microcosm structures and lignocellulolytic enzyme systems of symbiotic biomass-degrading consortia
Decomposition of lignocelluloses by cooperative microbial actions is an essential process of carbon cycling in nature and provides a basis for biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals in biorefineries. In this study, structurally stable symbiotic aero-tolerant lignocellulose-degrading microbial consortia were obtained from biodiversified microflora present in industrial sugarcane bagasse pile (BGC-1), cow rumen fluid (CRC-1), and pulp mill activated sludge (ASC-1) by successive subcultivation on rice straw under facultative anoxic conditions. Tagged 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing revealed that all isolated consortia originated from highly diverse environmental microflora shared similar composite phylum profiles comprising mainly Firmicutes, reflecting convergent adaptation of microcosm structures, however, with substantial differences at refined genus level. BGC-1 comprising cellulolytic Clostridium and Acetanaerobacterium in stable coexistence with ligninolytic Ureibacillus showed the highest capability on degradation of agricultural residues and industrial pulp waste with CMCase, xylanase, and beta-glucanase activities in the supernatant. Shotgun pyrosequencing of the BGC-1 metagenome indicated a markedly high relative abundance of genes encoding for glycosyl hydrolases, particularly for lignocellulytic enzymes in 26 families. The enzyme system comprised a unique composition of main-chain degrading and side-chain processing hydrolases, dominated by GH2, 3, 5, 9, 10, and 43, reflecting adaptation of enzyme profiles to the specific substrate. Gene mapping showed metabolic potential of BGC-1 for conversion of biomass sugars to various fermentation products of industrial importance. The symbiotic consortium is a promising simplified model for study of multispecies mechanisms on consolidated bioprocessing and a platform for discovering efficient synergistic enzyme systems for biotechnological application.