Insight into Dominant Cellulolytic Bacteria from Two Biogas Digesters and Their Glycoside Hydrolase Genes

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 12;10(6):e0129921. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129921. eCollection 2015.


Diverse cellulolytic bacteria are essential for maintaining high lignocellulose degradation ability in biogas digesters. However, little was known about functional genes and gene clusters of dominant cellulolytic bacteria in biogas digesters. This is the foundation to understand lignocellulose degradation mechanisms of biogas digesters and apply these gene resource for optimizing biofuel production. A combination of metagenomic and 16S rRNA gene clone library methods was used to investigate the dominant cellulolytic bacteria and their glycoside hydrolase (GH) genes in two biogas digesters. The 16S rRNA gene analysis revealed that the dominant cellulolytic bacteria were strains closely related to Clostridium straminisolvens and an uncultured cellulolytic bacterium designated BG-1. To recover GH genes from cellulolytic bacteria in general, and BG-1 in particular, a refined assembly approach developed in this study was used to assemble GH genes from metagenomic reads; 163 GH-containing contigs ≥ 1 kb in length were obtained. Six recovered GH5 genes that were expressed in E. coli demonstrated multiple lignocellulase activities and one had high mannanase activity (1255 U/mg). Eleven fosmid clones harboring the recovered GH-containing contigs were sequenced and assembled into 10 fosmid contigs. The composition of GH genes in the 163 assembled metagenomic contigs and 10 fosmid contigs indicated that diverse GHs and lignocellulose degradation mechanisms were present in the biogas digesters. In particular, a small portion of BG-1 genome information was recovered by PhyloPythiaS analysis. The lignocellulase gene clusters in BG-1 suggested that it might use a possible novel lignocellulose degradation mechanism to efficiently degrade lignocellulose. Dominant cellulolytic bacteria of biogas digester possess diverse GH genes, not only in sequences but also in their functions, which may be applied for production of biofuel in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biodiversity
  • Biofuels / microbiology*
  • Biotransformation*
  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression
  • Genomics
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Lignin / metabolism
  • Metagenomics
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Biofuels
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • lignocellulose
  • Lignin
  • Glycoside Hydrolases

Grants and funding

This work was supported financially by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program: 2012CB721103; 2011CB707403), the International Joint Research Program (GJHZ1128), and the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KSCX2-EW-J-12).