Characterization of Microbial Biocatalysts in Lignocellulosic Utilization
Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass involves a number of specialized biological systems that degrade and transport plant polysaccharides. Understanding these enzyme and transport protein systems may allow development of biocatalysts for processing biomass, thereby achieving a considerable decrease in energy input. The bacterium Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2, isolated from decaying hardwood, has revealed several novel physiological characteristics in the efficient use of some biomass polysaccharides. Forest Service scientists analyzed the transcriptome of bacterium when grown on barley glucans, starch, and xylans from sweetgum and sorghum. This work identified the specific systems involved in the use of each of these substrates. These findings provide additional insight into approaches for biocatalyst development. Paenibacillus sp. Strain JDR-2 is a candidate for genetic engineering to create second generation bacterial biocatalysts, and biological subsystems of this bacterium may be used in other bacterial systems for the same genetic engineering purpose.