Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Salt-loving microbe provides new enzymes for the production of next-generation biofuels

Date:
July 10, 2011
Source:
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Summary:
To realize the full potential of advanced biofuels that are derived from lignocellulosic biomass, new technologies that can efficiently and cost-effectively break down this biomass into simple sugars are required. A new class of solvents, ionic liquids, are more efficient in treating the biomass and enhancing the yield of sugars liberated from it. To identify new enzymes that are tolerant of ionic liquids, researchers are turning to salt-tolerant organisms isolated from the Great Salt Lake.

As a test of a bioenergy-related application of DNA sequencing and enzyme discovery, US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute researchers led by the DOE JGI Director Eddy Rubin, and colleagues from the Joint BioEnergy Institute at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory employed a cellulose-degrading enzyme from a salt-tolerant microbe that was isolated from the Great Salt Lake.
Credit: David Gilbert, DOE JGI

In order to realize the full potential of advanced biofuels that are derived from non-food sources of lignocellulosic biomass -- e.g., agricultural, forestry, and municipal waste, and crops such as poplar, switchgrass and miscanthus -- new technologies that can efficiently and cost-effectively break down this biomass into simple sugars are required. Existing biomass pretreatment technologies are typically derived from the pulp and paper industry and rely on dilute acids and bases to break down the biomass. The treated biomass product is then exposed to biological catalysts, or enzymes, to liberate the sugars.

A new class of solvents, referred to as ionic liquids, have been reported to be much more efficient in treating the biomass and enhancing the yield of sugars liberated from it. While ionic liquids are useful for breaking down biomass, they can also hinder the ability of the cellulases (usually derived from fungi) used to produce sugars after pretreatment. Ionic liquids are a liquid form of salt that will inactivate enzymes by interfering with the folding of polypeptides -- the building-blocks of proteins. To help identify new enzymes that are tolerant of ionic liquids, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are turning to those found in the complete genome sequences of halophilic (salt-tolerant) organisms.

As a test of this bioenergy-related application of DNA sequencing and enzyme discovery, researchers led by the Director of the DOE JGI, Eddy Rubin, and the Vice-President of the JBEI Deconstruction Division, Blake Simmons, employed a cellulose-degrading enzyme from a salt-tolerant microbe that was isolated from the Great Salt Lake. The microbe in question, Halorhabdus utahensis, is from the branch of the tree of life known as Archaea; H. utahensis was isolated from the natural environment at the Great Salt Lake and sequenced at the DOE JGI as part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project.

"This is one of the only reports of salt-tolerant cellulases, and the only one that represents a true 'genome-to-function' relevant to ionic liquids from a halophilic environment," said Simmons of the study published June 30, 2011 in Green Chemistry. "This strategy enhances the possibility of identifying true obligatory halophilic enzymes." Such salt-tolerant enzymes, particularly cellulases, offer significant advantages for industrial utility over conventional enzymes.

In collaboration with Jerry Eichler from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel they cloned and expressed a gene from H. utahensis in another haloarchaeal microbe, and were able to identify a salt-dependent enzyme that can tolerate high temperatures and is resistant to ionic liquids. "This project has established a very important link between genomic science and the realization of enzymes that can handle very demanding chemical environments, such as those present in a biorefinery," said Simmons.

The group plans to expand this research to develop a full complement of enzymes that is tailored for the ionic liquid process technology with the goal of demonstrating a complete biomass-to-sugar process, one they hope can enable the commercial viability of advanced biofuels.

Other contributors to the project include Tao Zhang, Natalia Ivanova, Seth Axen, Cheryl Kerfeld, Feng Chen, Nikos Kyrpides, Jan-Fang Cheng of the DOE JGI along with Philip Hugenholtz now with The University of Queensland, and Supratim Datta and Kenneth Sale of JBEI.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Joint Genome Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Joint Genome Institute. "Salt-loving microbe provides new enzymes for the production of next-generation biofuels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630091813.htm>.
DOE/Joint Genome Institute. (2011, July 10). Salt-loving microbe provides new enzymes for the production of next-generation biofuels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630091813.htm
DOE/Joint Genome Institute. "Salt-loving microbe provides new enzymes for the production of next-generation biofuels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630091813.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Parks officials in Stevens Point, Wisconsin had a fowl problem. Canadian Geese were making a mess of a park, so officials enlisted cardboard versions of man's best friend. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins