Aerobic deconstruction of cellulosic biomass by an insect-associated Streptomyces

Sci Rep. 2013;3:1030. doi: 10.1038/srep01030. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


Streptomyces are best known for producing antimicrobial secondary metabolites, but they are also recognized for their contributions to biomass utilization. Despite their importance to carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, our understanding of the cellulolytic ability of Streptomyces is currently limited to a few soil-isolates. Here, we demonstrate the biomass-deconstructing capability of Streptomyces sp. SirexAA-E (ActE), an aerobic bacterium associated with the invasive pine-boring woodwasp Sirex noctilio. When grown on plant biomass, ActE secretes a suite of enzymes including endo- and exo-cellulases, CBM33 polysaccharide-monooxygenases, and hemicellulases. Genome-wide transcriptomic and proteomic analyses, and biochemical assays have revealed the key enzymes used to deconstruct crystalline cellulose, other pure polysaccharides, and biomass. The mixture of enzymes obtained from growth on biomass has biomass-degrading activity comparable to a cellulolytic enzyme cocktail from the fungus Trichoderma reesei, and thus provides a compelling example of high cellulolytic capacity in an aerobic bacterium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomass
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Cellulases / metabolism*
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Poaceae / metabolism
  • Proteomics
  • Streptomyces / enzymology*
  • Streptomyces / genetics
  • Streptomyces / metabolism
  • Wasps / microbiology*


  • Carbon
  • Cellulose
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Cellulases
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • hemicellulase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/CP002993
  • GEO/GSE31748
  • RefSeq/NC_015953