Among cellulases, β-glucosidases play a key role in the final conversion of cellulose into glucose as well as they boost the performance of the other cellulases, in particular cellobiohydrolases in relieving product inhibition. This chapter serves as case example from screening for novel fungal cellulases focusing on β-glucosidases to identifying a gene encoding the key β-glucosidase in the fungus with highest activity. In the case example, the β-glucosidase-producing fungus showed to belong to an unknown fungal species, Aspergillus saccharolyticus, not previously described. The gene was expressed in Trichoderma reesei, which has low indigenous β-glucosidase activity, and the activity of the purified enzyme was assessed in hydrolysis of various pretreated lignocellulosic biomasses. The potential of using the natural producing strain for on-site production of β-glucosidases using lignocellulosic biorefinery waste streams as substrates is discussed. Finally, the potential of the fungus for consolidated bioprocessing of waste streams into valuable compounds, such as organic acids is highlighted.
Keywords: Consolidated bioprocessing; Novel fungal species; On-site enzyme production; Organic acid production; β-glucosidase.