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J Anim Sci. 2012 Dec;90 Suppl 4:400-2. doi: 10.2527/jas.53942.

The porcine gut microbial metagenomic library for mining novel cellulases established from growing pigs fed cellulose-supplemented high-fat diets.

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  • 1Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The porcine gut microbiome is a novel genomic resource for screening cellulose-degrading enzymes. A plasmid metagenomic expression library was constructed from the hindgut microbiota of 6 Yorkshire growing pigs (25 to 40 kg) fed a high-fat basal diet supplemented with 10% Solka-Floc for 28 d. Fresh cecal and colonic digesta samples were collected, flash-frozen in liquid N, and stored under -80°C. Metagenomic DNA was extracted, mechanically sheared, and cleaned to remove small DNA fragments (<1.0 kb). The resulting DNA fragments were subjected to blunt-end polishing, fractionation, and purification by using commercial kits. The end-modified DNA fragments were ligated to pCR4Blunt-TOPO vector and transformed into competent Escherichia coli TOPO10 cells. Metagenomic plasmid libraries were screened for carboxymethyl cellulolytic activities by using lysogeny broth agar plates. The average insert size of the resulting library was approximately 4.2 kb. Screening for the ability to hydrolyze carboxymethyl cellulose yielded 14 positive colonies, giving an estimated 430 Mb of metagenomic DNA in the approximately 102,000 E. coli clones with an overall hit rate of 0.14%. The 11 assembled insert sequences included 4 function-related gene clusters, and a total of 18 putative carbohydrate active enzyme genes were identified. This included genes encoding 11 cellulases, 4 hemicellulases, 1 polygalacturonas, 1 glycoside hydrolase family 26 mannanase-family 5 cellulase chimeric enzyme gene, and 1 cellobiose phosphorylase. In conclusion, the coupling of functional metagenomic mining with biochemical characterization of fiber-degrading enzymes is a powerful strategy for exploring the enzymological underpinnings of the anaerobic fermentation of dietary fiber in the complex animal gut environment.

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