Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate bacterium for lignocellulose utilization due to its efficient lignocellulose solubilization ability. It has been reported that C. thermocellum efficiently degrades purified cellulose substrates, but cannot completely degrade milled lignocellulose powders. Evaluation of cellulose and hemicellulose contents in a lignocellulose residue after the cultivation of C. thermocellum indicated that C. thermocellum degraded cellulose and hemicellulose equally. Microscopic observations demonstrated that C. thermocellum significantly degraded small-sized lignocellulose particles, but it only partially degraded the larger sized particles. The lignin content of the large-sized particles was higher than that of the small particles. The remained large-sized particles included vascular tissues. These results suggest that the lignified structures such as vascular tissues in milled lignocellulose were less susceptible to bacterial lignocellulose solubilization.
Keywords: Clostridium thermocellum; biorefinery; lignocellulose solubilization.