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J Biotechnol. 2008 Aug 31;136(1-2):77-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2008.05.008. Epub 2008 May 27.

The metagenome of a biogas-producing microbial community of a production-scale biogas plant fermenter analysed by the 454-pyrosequencing technology.

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Lehrstuhl für Genetik, Universität Bielefeld, D-33594 Bielefeld, Germany. Andreas.Schlueter@Genetik.Uni-Bielefeld.DE


Composition and gene content of a biogas-producing microbial community from a production-scale biogas plant fed with renewable primary products was analysed by means of a metagenomic approach applying the ultrafast 454-pyrosequencing technology. Sequencing of isolated total community DNA on a Genome Sequencer FLX System resulted in 616,072 reads with an average read length of 230 bases accounting for 141,664,289 bases sequence information. Assignment of obtained single reads to COG (Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins) categories revealed a genetic profile characteristic for an anaerobic microbial consortium conducting fermentative metabolic pathways. Assembly of single reads resulted in the formation of 8752 contigs larger than 500 bases in size. Contigs longer than 10kb mainly encode house-keeping proteins, e.g. DNA polymerase, recombinase, DNA ligase, sigma factor RpoD and genes involved in sugar and amino acid metabolism. A significant portion of contigs was allocated to the genome sequence of the archaeal methanogen Methanoculleus marisnigri JR1. Mapping of single reads to the M. marisnigri JR1 genome revealed that approximately 64% of the reference genome including methanogenesis gene regions are deeply covered. These results suggest that species related to those of the genus Methanoculleus play a dominant role in methanogenesis in the analysed fermentation sample. Moreover, assignment of numerous contig sequences to clostridial genomes including gene regions for cellulolytic functions indicates that clostridia are important for hydrolysis of cellulosic plant biomass in the biogas fermenter under study. Metagenome sequence data from a biogas-producing microbial community residing in a fermenter of a biogas plant provide the basis for a rational approach to improve the biotechnological process of biogas production.

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