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Microbial β-glucosidases from cow rumen metagenome enhance the saccharification of lignocellulose in combination with commercial cellulase cocktail

Mercedes V Del Pozo1, Lucía Fernández-Arrojo1, Jorge Gil-Martínez2, Alejandro Montesinos3, Tatyana N Chernikova4, Taras Y Nechitaylo5, Agnes Waliszek6, Marta Tortajada3, Antonia Rojas3, Sharon A Huws7, Olga V Golyshina4, Charles J Newbold78, Julio Polaina9, Manuel Ferrer1* and Peter N Golyshin48*

Author Affiliations

1 CSIC, Institute of Catalysis, 28049, Madrid, Spain

2 Abengoa Bioenergía Nuevas Tecnologías S.A., 41012, Sevilla, Spain

3 Biopolis S.L, 48980, Paterna, Valencia, Spain

4 School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, LL57 2UW, Gwynedd, UK

5 Insect Symbiosis Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, 07745, Jena, Germany

6 Environmental Microbiology Department, HZI-Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, D-38124, Braunschweig, Germany

7 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DA, UK

8 Centre for Integrated Research in the Rural Environment, Aberystwyth University-Bangor University Partnership (CIRRE), Aberystwyth, SY23 3DA, UK

9 CSIC, Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos, 46980, Paterna, Valencia, Spain

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2012, 5:73  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-5-73

Published: 21 September 2012



A complete saccharification of plant polymers is the critical step in the efficient production of bio-alcohols. Beta-glucosidases acting in the degradation of intermediate gluco-oligosaccharides produced by cellulases limit the yield of the final product.


In the present work, we have identified and then successfully cloned, expressed, purified and characterised 4 highly active beta-glucosidases from fibre-adherent microbial community from the cow rumen. The enzymes were most active at temperatures 45–55°C and pH 4.0-7.0 and exhibited high affinity and activity towards synthetic substrates such as p-nitrophenyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside (pNPbetaG) and pNP-beta-cellobiose, as well as to natural cello-oligosaccharides ranging from cellobiose to cellopentaose. The apparent capability of the most active beta-glucosidase, herein named LAB25g2, was tested for its ability to improve, at low dosage (31.25 units g-1 dry biomass, using pNPbetaG as substrate), the hydrolysis of pre-treated corn stover (dry matter content of 20%; 350 g glucan kg-1 dry biomass) in combination with a beta-glucosidase-deficient commercial Trichoderma reseei cellulase cocktail (5 units g-1 dry biomass in the basis of pNPbetaG). LAB25g2 increased the final hydrolysis yield by a factor of 20% (44.5 ± 1.7% vs. 34.5 ± 1.5% in control conditions) after 96–120 h as compared to control reactions in its absence or in the presence of other commercial beta-glucosidase preparations. The high stability (half-life higher than 5 days at 50°C and pH 5.2) and 2–38000 fold higher (as compared with reported beta-glucosidases) activity towards cello-oligosaccharides may account for its performance in supplementation assays.


The results suggest that beta-glucosidases from yet uncultured bacteria from animal digestomes may be of a potential interest for biotechnological processes related to the effective bio-ethanol production in combination with low dosage of commercial cellulases.

Beta-glucosidases; Bio-ethanol; Glycosyl hydrolase; Lignocellulose; Metagenome; Rumen