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J Vis Exp. 2011 Feb 1;(48). pii: 2461. doi: 10.3791/2461.

A high throughput screen for biomining cellulase activity from metagenomic libraries.

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1
Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia - UBC.

Abstract

Cellulose, the most abundant source of organic carbon on the planet, has wide-ranging industrial applications with increasing emphasis on biofuel production (1). Chemical methods to modify or degrade cellulose typically require strong acids and high temperatures. As such, enzymatic methods have become prominent in the bioconversion process. While the identification of active cellulases from bacterial and fungal isolates has been somewhat effective, the vast majority of microbes in nature resist laboratory cultivation. Environmental genomic, also known as metagenomic, screening approaches have great promise in bridging the cultivation gap in the search for novel bioconversion enzymes. Metagenomic screening approaches have successfully recovered novel cellulases from environments as varied as soils (2), buffalo rumen (3) and the termite hind-gut (4) using carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) agar plates stained with congo red dye (based on the method of Teather and Wood (5)). However, the CMC method is limited in throughput, is not quantitative and manifests a low signal to noise ratio (6). Other methods have been reported (7,8) but each use an agar plate-based assay, which is undesirable for high-throughput screening of large insert genomic libraries. Here we present a solution-based screen for cellulase activity using a chromogenic dinitrophenol (DNP)-cellobioside substrate (9). Our library was cloned into the pCC1 copy control fosmid to increase assay sensitivity through copy number induction (10). The method uses one-pot chemistry in 384-well microplates with the final readout provided as an absorbance measurement. This readout is quantitative, sensitive and automated with a throughput of up to 100X 384-well plates per day using a liquid handler and plate reader with attached stacking system.

PMID:
21307835
PMCID:
PMC3197399
DOI:
10.3791/2461
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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