[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Feedstock recalcitrance is the most important barrier impeding cost-effective production of cellulosic biofuels. Pioneer commercial cellulosic ethanol facilities employ thermochemical pretreatment and addition of fungal cellulase, reflecting the main research emphasis in the field. However, it has been suggested that it may be possible to process cellulosic biomass without thermochemical pretreatment using thermophilic, cellulolytic bacteria. To further explore this idea, we examine the ability of various biocatalysts to solubilize autoclaved but otherwise unpretreated cellulosic biomass under controlled but not industrial conditions.
Carbohydrate solubilization of mid-season harvested switchgrass after 5 days ranged from 24 % for Caldicellulosiruptor bescii to 65 % for Clostridium thermocellum, with intermediate values for a thermophilic horse manure enrichment, Clostridium clariflavum, Clostridium cellulolyticum, and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) featuring a fungal cellulase cocktail and yeast. Under a variety of conditions, solubilization yields were about twice as high for C. thermocellum compared to fungal cellulase. Solubilization of mid-season harvested switchgrass was about twice that of senescent switchgrass. Lower yields and greater dependence on particle size were observed for Populus as compared to switchgrass. Trends observed from data drawn from six conversion systems and three substrates, including both time course and end-point data, were (1) equal fractional solubilization of glucan and xylan, (2) no biological solubilization of the non-carbohydrate fraction of biomass, and (3) higher solubilization for three of the four bacterial cultures tested as compared to the fungal cellulase system. Brief (5 min) ball milling of solids remaining after fermentation of senescent switchgrass by C. thermocellum nearly doubled carbohydrate solubilization upon reinnoculation as compared to a control without milling. Greater particle size reduction and solubilization were observed for milling of partially fermented solids than for unfermented solids. Physical disruption of cellulosic feedstocks after initiation of fermentation, termed cotreatment, warrants further study.
While the ability to achieve significant solubilization of minimally pretreated switchgrass is widespread, a fivefold difference between the most and least effective biocatalyst-feedstock combinations was observed. Starting with nature's best biomass-solubilizing systems may enable a reduction in the amount of non-biological processing required, and in particular substitution of cotreatment for pretreatment.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Biotechnology for Biofuels
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among themophilic consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) candidate organisms, environmental isolates of Clostridium clariflavum have demonstrated the ability to grow on xylan, and the genome of C. clariflavum DSM 19732 has revealed a number of mechanisms that foster solubilization of hemicellulose that are distinctive relative to the model cellulolytic thermophile Clostridium thermocellum.
Growth experiments on xylan, xylooligosaccharides, and xylose reveal that C. clariflavum strains are able to completely break down xylan to xylose and that the environmental strain C. clariflavum sp. 4-2a is able to grow on monomeric xylose. C. clariflavum strains were able to utilize a larger proportion of unpretreated switchgrass, and solubilize a higher proportion of glucan, xylan, and arabinan, with strain 4-2a reaching the highest extent of solubilization of these components (64.7 to 69.4%) compared to C. thermocellum (29.5 to 42.5%). In addition, glycome immunoanalyses of residual plant biomass reveal differences in the extent of degradation of easily accessible xylans, with C. clariflavum strains having increased solubilization of this fraction of xylans relative to C. thermocellum.
C. clariflavum strains exhibit higher activity than C. thermocellum in the breakdown of hemicellulose and are capable of degrading xylan to xylooligomers and xylose. This capability seems to also play a role in the higher levels of utilization of unpretreated plant material.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Biotechnology for Biofuels
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The thermophilic anaerobe Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum JW/SL-YS485 was investigated as a host for n-butanol production. A systematic approach was taken to demonstrate functionality of heterologous components of the clostridial n-butanol pathway via gene expression and enzymatic activity assays in this organism. Subsequently, integration of the entire pathway in the wild-type strain resulted in n-butanol production of 0.85g/L from 10g/L xylose, corresponding to 21% of the theoretical maximum yield. We were unable to integrate the n-butanol pathway in strainslacking the ability to produce acetate, despite the theoretical overall redox neutrality of n-butanol formation. However, integration of the n-butanol pathway in lactate deficient strains resulted in n-butanol production of 1.05g/L from 10g/L xylose, corresponding to 26% of the theoretical maximum.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Metabolic Engineering
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, efforts were taken to compare solubilization of Avicel and AFEX pretreated corn stover (AFEX CS) by SSF and Clostridium thermocellum fermentation, with an aim to gain insights into microbial conversion of pretreated cellulosic biomass. Solubilization rates for AFEX CS are comparable for the two systems while solubilization of Avicel is much faster by C. thermocellum. Initial catalyst loading impacts final cellulose conversion for SSF but not for C. thermocellum. Hydrolysis of the two substrates using cell-free C. thermocellum fermentation broth revealed much smaller difference in cellulose conversion than the difference observed for growing cultures. Tests on hemicellulose removal and particle size reduction for AFEX CS indicated that substrate accessibility is very important for enhanced solubilization by C. thermocellum.
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Bioresource Technology