Metagenomic Insight into Lignocellulose Degradation of the Thermophilic Microbial Consortium TMC7

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Aug 28;31(8):1123-1133. doi: 10.4014/jmb.2106.06015.


Biodegradation is the key process involved in natural lignocellulose biotransformation and utilization. Microbial consortia represent promising candidates for applications in lignocellulose conversion strategies for biofuel production; however, cooperation among the enzymes and the labor division of microbes in the microbial consortia remains unclear. In this study, metagenomic analysis was performed to reveal the community structure and extremozyme systems of a lignocellulolytic microbial consortium, TMC7. The taxonomic affiliation of TMC7 metagenome included members of the genera Ruminiclostridium (42.85%), Thermoanaerobacterium (18.41%), Geobacillus (10.44%), unclassified_f__Bacillaceae (7.48%), Aeribacillus (2.65%), Symbiobacterium (2.47%), Desulfotomaculum (2.33%), Caldibacillus (1.56%), Clostridium (1.26%), and others (10.55%). The carbohydrate-active enzyme annotation revealed that TMC7 encoded a broad array of enzymes responsible for cellulose and hemicellulose degradation. Ten glycoside hydrolases (GHs) endoglucanase, 4 GHs exoglucanase, and 6 GHs β-glucosidase were identified for cellulose degradation; 6 GHs endo-β-1,4-xylanase, 9 GHs β-xylosidase, and 3 GHs β-mannanase were identified for degradation of the hemicellulose main chain; 6 GHs arabinofuranosidase, 2 GHs α-mannosidase, 11 GHs galactosidase, 3 GHs α-rhamnosidase, and 4 GHs α-fucosidase were identified as xylan debranching enzymes. Furthermore, by introducing a factor named as the contribution coefficient, we found that Ruminiclostridium and Thermoanaerobacterium may be the dominant contributors, whereas Symbiobacterium and Desulfotomaculum may serve as "sugar cheaters" in lignocellulose degradation by TMC7. Our findings provide mechanistic profiles of an array of enzymes that degrade complex lignocellulosic biomass in the microbial consortium TMC7 and provide a promising approach for studying the potential contribution of microbes in microbial consortia.

Keywords: CAZymes; Llignocellulose degradation; metagenomics; microbial consortium; sugar cheater.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • Lignin / metabolism*
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbial Consortia / genetics*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • lignocellulose
  • hemicellulose
  • Cellulose
  • Lignin