Fungi produce enzymes that degrade the complex lignin thereby enabling the efficient utilization of plant lignocellulosic biomass in the production of biofuel and cellulose-based products. In the present study, the agricultural residues such as paddy straw, sugarcane bagasse, and coconut husk were used as substrates for the biodegradation by Aspergillus nomius (MN700028) and Trichoderma harzianum (MN700029) isolated from gut of the termite, Odontotermes obesus and fungus comb in the termite mound, respectively. The influence of varying concentrations of different carbon sources, pH, and temperature on ligninolytic enzyme production was examined under laboratory conditions. The highest activities of manganese peroxidase (0.24 U/mL), lignin peroxidase (10.38 U/mL) and laccase (0.05 U/mL) were observed under studied conditions. Fungal pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for 45 days showed that A. nomius and T. harzianum degraded 84.4% and 81.66% of hemicelluloses, 8.16% and 93.75% of cellulose, and 52.59% and 65% of lignin, respectively. The interaction of pH, temperature, and different carbon sources with fungal biomass and enzyme production was found significant (p ≤ 0.05). SEM analysis indicated alterations in the microstructures of degraded lignocellulosic substrates. A. nomius and T. harzianum were highly efficient in ligninolytic enzymes production and in vitro digestibility of agricultural residues. The study reports the production of laccase by A. nomius isolated from termite gut for the first time. The fungal isolates A. nomius and T. harzianum posses potential for ligninocellulosic waste degradation.
Keywords: Aspergillus nomius; Biotreatment; Ligninolytic enzyme; Termites; Trichoderma harzianum..
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