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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 13;9(2):e89108. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089108. eCollection 2014.

Potential of cometabolic transformation of polysaccharides and lignin in lignocellulose by soil Actinobacteria.

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Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology of the ASCR, v.v.i., Praha, Czech Republic.
Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


While it is known that several Actinobacteria produce enzymes that decompose polysaccharides or phenolic compounds in dead plant biomass, the occurrence of these traits in the environment remains largely unclear. The aim of this work was to screen isolated actinobacterial strains to explore their ability to produce extracellular enzymes that participate in the degradation of polysaccharides and their ability to cometabolically transform phenolic compounds of various complexities. Actinobacterial strains were isolated from meadow and forest soils and screened for their ability to grow on lignocellulose. The potential to transform (14)C-labelled phenolic substrates (dehydrogenation polymer (DHP), lignin and catechol) and to produce a range of extracellular, hydrolytic enzymes was investigated in three strains of Streptomyces spp. that possessed high lignocellulose degrading activity. Isolated strains showed high variation in their ability to produce cellulose- and hemicellulose-degrading enzymes and were able to mineralise up to 1.1% and to solubilise up to 4% of poplar lignin and to mineralise up to 11.4% and to solubilise up to 64% of catechol, while only minimal mineralisation of DHP was observed. The results confirm the potential importance of Actinobacteria in lignocellulose degradation, although it is likely that the decomposition of biopolymers is limited to strains that represent only a minor portion of the entire community, while the range of simple, carbon-containing compounds that serve as sources for actinobacterial growth is relatively wide.

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