Identification of Genes Conferring Tolerance to Lignocellulose-Derived Inhibitors by Functional Selections in Soil Metagenomes.
ABSTRACT: The production of fuels or chemicals from lignocellulose currently requires thermochemical pretreatment to release fermentable sugars. These harsh conditions also generate numerous small-molecule inhibitors of microbial growth and fermentation, limiting production. We applied small-insert functional metagenomic selections to discover genes that confer microbial tolerance to these inhibitors, identifying both individual genes and general biological processes associated with tolerance to multiple inhibitory compounds. Having screened over 248 Gb of DNA cloned from 16 diverse soil metagenomes, we describe gain-of-function tolerance against acid, alcohol, and aldehyde inhibitors derived from hemicellulose and lignin, demonstrating that uncultured soil microbial communities hold tremendous genetic potential to address the toxicity of pretreated lignocellulose. We recovered genes previously known to confer tolerance to lignocellulosic inhibitors as well as novel genes that confer tolerance via unknown functions. For instance, we implicated galactose metabolism in overcoming the toxicity of lignin monomers and identified a decarboxylase that confers tolerance to ferulic acid; this enzyme has been shown to catalyze the production of 4-vinyl guaiacol, a valuable precursor to vanillin production. These metagenomic tolerance genes can enable the flexible design of hardy microbial catalysts, customized to withstand inhibitors abundant in specific bioprocessing applications.
Project description:Some eukaryotes are able to gain access to well-protected carbon sources in plant biomass by exploiting microorganisms in the environment or harbored in their digestive system. One is the land pulmonate Arion ater, which takes advantage of a gut microbial consortium that can break down the widely available, but difficult to digest, carbohydrate polymers in lignocellulose, enabling them to digest a broad range of fresh and partially degraded plant material efficiently. This ability is considered one of the major factors that have enabled A. ater to become one of the most widespread plant pest species in Western Europe and North America. Using metagenomic techniques we have characterized the bacterial diversity and functional capability of the gut microbiome of this notorious agricultural pest. Analysis of gut metagenomic community sequences identified abundant populations of known lignocellulose-degrading bacteria, along with well-characterized bacterial plant pathogens. This also revealed a repertoire of more than 3,383 carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) including multiple enzymes associated with lignin degradation, demonstrating a microbial consortium capable of degradation of all components of lignocellulose. This would allow A. ater to make extensive use of plant biomass as a source of nutrients through exploitation of the enzymatic capabilities of the gut microbial consortia. From this metagenome assembly we also demonstrate the successful amplification of multiple predicted gene sequences from metagenomic DNA subjected to whole genome amplification and expression of functional proteins, facilitating the low cost acquisition and biochemical testing of the many thousands of novel genes identified in metagenomics studies. These findings demonstrate the importance of studying Gastropod microbial communities. Firstly, with respect to understanding links between feeding and evolutionary success and, secondly, as sources of novel enzymes with biotechnological potential, such as, CAZYmes that could be used in the production of biofuel.
Project description:Deconstructing the intricate matrix of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin poses a major challenge in biofuel production. In diverse environments in nature, some microbial communities, are able to overcome plant biomass recalcitrance. Identifying key degraders of each component of plant cell wall can help improve biological degradation of plant feedstock. Here, we sequenced the metagenome of lignocellulose-adapted microbial consortia sub-cultured on xylan and alkali lignin media. We observed a drastic shift on community composition after sub-culturing, independently of the original consortia. Proteobacteria relative abundance increased after growth in alkali lignin medium, while Bacteroidetes abundance increased after growth in xylan medium. At the genus level, Pseudomonas was more abundant in the communities growing on alkali lignin, Sphingobacterium in the communities growing on xylan and Cellulomonas abundance was the highest in the original microbial consortia. We also observed functional convergence of microbial communities after incubation in alkali lignin, due to an enrichment of genes involved in benzoate degradation and catechol ortho-cleavage pathways. Our results represent an important step toward the elucidation of key members of microbial communities on lignocellulose degradation and may aide the design of novel lignocellulolytic microbial consortia that are able to efficiently degrade plant cell wall polymers.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Woodlice are recognized as keystone species in terrestrial ecosystems due to their role in the decomposition of organic matter. Thus, they contribute to lignocellulose degradation and nutrient cycling in the environment together with other macroarthropods. Lignocellulose is the main component of plants and is composed of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Its digestion requires the action of multiple Carbohydrate-Active enZymes (called CAZymes), typically acting together as a cocktail with complementary, synergistic activities and modes of action. Some invertebrates express a few endogenous lignocellulose-degrading enzymes but in most species, an efficient degradation and digestion of lignocellulose can only be achieved through mutualistic associations with endosymbionts. Similar to termites, it has been suspected that several bacterial symbionts may be involved in lignocellulose degradation in terrestrial isopods, by completing the CAZyme repertoire of their hosts. RESULTS:To test this hypothesis, host transcriptomic and microbiome shotgun metagenomic datasets were obtained and investigated from the pill bug Armadillidium vulgare. Many genes of bacterial and archaeal origin coding for CAZymes were identified in the metagenomes of several host tissues and the gut content of specimens from both laboratory lineages and a natural population of A. vulgare. Some of them may be involved in the degradation of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Reconstructing a lignocellulose-degrading microbial community based on the prokaryotic taxa contributing relevant CAZymes revealed two taxonomically distinct but functionally redundant microbial communities depending on host origin. In parallel, endogenous CAZymes were identified from the transcriptome of the host and their expression in digestive tissues was demonstrated by RT-qPCR, demonstrating a complementary enzyme repertoire for lignocellulose degradation from both the host and the microbiome in A. vulgare. CONCLUSIONS:Our results provide new insights into the role of the microbiome in the evolution of terrestrial isopods and their adaptive radiation in terrestrial habitats.
Project description:Lignin-derived (e.g. phenolic) compounds can compromise the bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals due to their toxicity and recalcitrance. The lipid-accumulating bacterium Rhodococcus opacus PD630 has recently emerged as a promising microbial host for lignocellulose conversion to value-added products due to its natural ability to tolerate and utilize phenolics. To gain a better understanding of its phenolic tolerance and utilization mechanisms, we adaptively evolved R. opacus over 40 passages using phenol as its sole carbon source (up to 373% growth improvement over wild-type), and extensively characterized two strains from passages 33 and 40. The two adapted strains showed higher phenol consumption rates (?20 mg/l/h) and ?2-fold higher lipid production from phenol than the wild-type strain. Whole-genome sequencing and comparative transcriptomics identified highly-upregulated degradation pathways and putative transporters for phenol in both adapted strains, highlighting the important linkage between mechanisms of regulated phenol uptake, utilization, and evolved tolerance. Our study shows that the R. opacus mutants are likely to use their transporters to import phenol rather than export them, suggesting a new aromatic tolerance mechanism. The identified tolerance genes and pathways are promising candidates for future metabolic engineering in R. opacus for improved lignin conversion to lipid-based products.
Project description:Genetic modification of Rhodococcus jostii RHA1 was carried out in order to optimise the production of pyridine-2,4-dicarboxylic acid and pyridine-2,5-dicarboxylic acid bioproducts from lignin or lignocellulose breakdown, via insertion of either the Sphingobium SYK-6 ligAB genes or Paenibacillus praA gene respectively. Insertion of inducible plasmid pTipQC2 expression vector containing either ligAB or praA genes into a ?pcaHG R. jostii RHA1 gene deletion strain gave 2-threefold higher titres of PDCA production from lignocellulose (200-287 mg/L), compared to plasmid expression in wild-type R. jostii RHA1. The ligAB genes were inserted in place of the chromosomal pcaHG genes encoding protocatechuate 3,4-dioxygenase, under the control of inducible P<sub>icl</sub> or P<sub>nitA</sub> promoters, or a constitutive P<sub>tpc5</sub> promoter, producing 2,4-PDCA products using either wheat straw lignocellulose or commercial soda lignin as carbon source. Insertion of Amycolatopsis sp. 75iv2 dyp2 gene on a pTipQC2 expression plasmid led to enhanced titres of 2,4-PDCA products, due to enhanced rate of lignin degradation. Growth in minimal media containing wheat straw lignocellulose led to the production of 2,4-PDCA in 330 mg/L titre in 40 h, with?>?tenfold enhanced productivity, compared with plasmid-based expression of ligAB genes in wild-type R. jostii RHA1. Production of 2,4-PDCA was also observed using several different polymeric lignins as carbon sources, and a titre of 240 mg/L was observed using a commercially available soda lignin as feedstock.
Project description:Lignocellulose from fast growing hardwood species is a preferred source of polysaccharides for advanced biofuels and "green" chemicals. However, the extensive acetylation of hardwood xylan hinders lignocellulose saccharification by obstructing enzymatic xylan hydrolysis and causing inhibitory acetic acid concentrations during microbial sugar fermentation. To optimize lignocellulose for cost-effective saccharification and biofuel production, an acetyl xylan esterase AnAXE1 from Aspergillus niger was introduced into aspen and targeted to cell walls.AnAXE1-expressing plants exhibited reduced xylan acetylation and grew normally. Without pretreatment, their lignocellulose yielded over 25% more glucose per unit mass of wood (dry weight) than wild-type plants. Glucose yields were less improved (+7%) after acid pretreatment, which hydrolyses xylan. The results indicate that AnAXE1 expression also reduced the molecular weight of xylan, and xylan-lignin complexes and/or lignin co-extracted with xylan, increased cellulose crystallinity, altered the lignin composition, reducing its syringyl to guaiacyl ratio, and increased lignin solubility in dioxane and hot water. Lignin-associated carbohydrates became enriched in xylose residues, indicating a higher content of xylo-oligosaccharides.This work revealed several changes in plant cell walls caused by deacetylation of xylan. We propose that deacetylated xylan is partially hydrolyzed in the cell walls, liberating xylo-oligosaccharides and their associated lignin oligomers from the cell wall network. Deacetylating xylan thus not only increases its susceptibility to hydrolytic enzymes during saccharification but also changes the cell wall architecture, increasing the extractability of lignin and xylan and facilitating saccharification.
Project description:The negative effects of lignocellulose-derived inhibitors such as acetic acid and furaldehydes on microbial metabolism constitute a significant drawback to the usage of biomass feedstocks for the production of fuels and chemicals. The yeast Pichia pastoris has shown a great biotechnological potential for producing heterologous proteins and renewable chemicals. Despite its relevance, the performance of P. pastoris in presence of lignocellulose-derived inhibitors remains unclear. In this work, our results show for the first time the dose-dependent response of P. pastoris to acetic acid, furaldehydes (HMF and furfural), and sugarcane biomass hydrolysate, both at physiological and transcriptional levels. The yeast was able to grow in synthetic media with up to 6 g.L<sup>-1</sup> acetic acid, 1.75 g.L<sup>-1</sup> furaldehydes or hydrolysate diluted to 10% (v/v). However, its metabolism was completely hindered in presence of hydrolysate diluted to 30% (v/v). Additionally, the yeast was capable to co-consume acetic acid and glucose. At the transcriptional level, P. pastoris response to lignocellulose-derived inhibitors relays on the up-regulation of genes related to transmembrane transport, oxidoreductase activities, RNA processing, and the repression of pathways related to biosynthetic processes and central carbon metabolism. These results demonstrate a polygenetic response that involves detoxification activities, and maintenance of energy and cellular homeostasis. In this context, ALD4, OYE3, QOR2, NTL100, YCT1, and PPR1 were identified as target genes to improve P. pastoris tolerance. Altogether, this work provides valuable insights into the P. pastoris stress tolerance, which can be useful to expand its use in different bioprocesses.
Project description:Efficient microbial conversion of lignocellulose into valuable products is often hindered by the presence of furfural, a dehydration product of pentoses in hemicellulose sugar syrups derived from woody biomass. For a cost-effective lignocellulose microbial conversion, robust biocatalysts are needed that can tolerate toxic inhibitors while maintaining optimal metabolic activities. A comprehensive plasmid-based library encoding native multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps, porins, and select exporters from <i>Escherichia coli</i> was screened for furfural tolerance in an ethanologenic <i>E. coli</i> strain. Small multidrug resistance (SMR) pumps, such as SugE and MdtJI, as well as a lactate/glycolate:H<sup>+</sup> symporter, LldP, conferred furfural tolerance in liquid culture tests. Expression of the SMR pump potentially increased furfural efflux and cellular viability upon furfural assault, suggesting novel activities for SMR pumps as furfural efflux proteins. Furthermore, induced expression of <i>mdtJI</i> enhanced ethanol fermentative production of LY180 in the presence of furfural or 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, further demonstrating the applications of SMR pumps. This work describes an effective approach to identify useful efflux systems with desired activities for nonnative toxic chemicals and provides a platform to further enhance furfural efflux by protein engineering and mutagenesis.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> Lignocellulosic biomass, especially agricultural residues, represents an important potential feedstock for microbial production of renewable fuels and chemicals. During the deconstruction of hemicellulose by thermochemical processes, side products that inhibit cell growth and production, such as furan aldehydes, are generated, limiting cost-effective lignocellulose conversion. Here, we developed a new approach to increase cellular tolerance by expressing multidrug resistance (MDR) pumps with putative efflux activities for furan aldehydes. The developed plasmid library and screening methods may facilitate new discoveries of MDR pumps for diverse toxic chemicals important for microbial conversion.
Project description:Plant cell walls are composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, collectively known as lignocellulose. Microorganisms degrade lignocellulose to liberate sugars to meet metabolic demands. Using a metagenomic sequencing approach, we previously demonstrated that the microbiome of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is replete with genes that could encode lignocellulose-degrading enzymes. Here, we report the identification, synthesis and partial characterization of four novel genes from the porcupine microbiome encoding putative lignocellulose-degrading enzymes: ?-glucosidase, ?-L-arabinofuranosidase, ?-xylosidase, and endo-1,4-?-xylanase. These genes were identified via conserved catalytic domains associated with cellulose- and hemicellulose-degradation. Phylogenetic trees were created for each of these putative enzymes to depict genetic relatedness to known enzymes. Candidate genes were synthesized and cloned into plasmid expression vectors for inducible protein expression and secretion. The putative ?-glucosidase fusion protein was efficiently secreted but did not permit Escherichia coli (E. coli) to use cellobiose as a sole carbon source, nor did the affinity purified enzyme cleave p-Nitrophenyl ?-D-glucopyranoside (p-NPG) substrate in vitro over a range of physiological pH levels (pH 5-7). The putative hemicellulose-degrading ?-xylosidase and ?-L-arabinofuranosidase enzymes also lacked in vitro enzyme activity, but the affinity purified endo-1,4-?-xylanase protein cleaved a 6-chloro-4-methylumbelliferyl xylobioside substrate in acidic and neutral conditions, with maximal activity at pH 7. At this optimal pH, KM, Vmax, and kcat were determined to be 32.005 ± 4.72 ?M, 1.16x10-5 ± 3.55x10-7 M/s, and 94.72 s-1, respectively. Thus, our pipeline enabled successful identification and characterization of a novel hemicellulose-degrading enzyme from the porcupine microbiome. Progress towards the goal of introducing a complete lignocellulose-degradation pathway into E. coli will be accelerated by combining synthetic metagenomic approaches with functional metagenomic library screening, which can identify novel enzymes unrelated to those found in available databases.
Project description:Background:Fast, complete, and ultimate removal of inhibitory compounds derived from lignocellulose pretreatment is the prerequisite for efficient production of cellulosic ethanol and biochemicals. Biodetoxification is the most promising method for inhibitor removal by its unique advantages. The biodetoxification mechanisms of a unique diploid fungus responsible for highly efficient biodetoxification in solid-state culture was extensively investigated in the aspects of cellular structure, genome sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and practical biodetoxification. Results:The inborn heterozygous diploid structure of A. resinae ZN1 uniquely contributed to the enhancement of inhibitor tolerance and conversion. The co-expression of gene pairs contributed to the enhancement of the degradation of lignocellulose-derived model inhibitors. The ultimate inhibitors degradation pathways and sugar conservation were elucidated by microbial degradation experimentation as well as the genomic and transcriptomic sequencing analysis. Conclusions:The finding of the heterozygous diploid structure in A. resinae ZN1 on biodetoxification took the first insight into the global overview of biodetoxification mechanism of lignocellulose-derived inhibitors. This study provided a unique and practical biodetoxification biocatalyst of inhibitor compounds for lignocellulose biorefinery processing, as well as the synthetic biology tools on biodetoxification of biorefinery fermenting strains.