Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microbial breakthrough impacts health, agriculture, biofuels

08.09.2010

For the first time ever, University of Illinois researchers have discovered how microbes break down hemicellulose plant matter into simple sugars using a cow rumen bacterium as a model.

"This is ground-breaking research," said Isaac Cann, associate professor in the U of I Department of Animal Sciences and member of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) in the Institute for Genomic Biology. "The implications are very broad, yet it all started with a simple rumen microbe. It's amazing how we can draw inferences to human health and nutrition, biofuel production and animal nutrition because of our new understanding of how a microbe works."

The cow rumen is an excellent model to study as it's one of the most efficient machines to deconstruct plant matter, Cann said. Microbes in the rumen break down plant matter into glucose and xylose to use as nutrients for fermentation and energy acquisition.

U of I researchers utilized DNA sequencing and transcriptomics (RNAseq approach) to determine all of the enzymes the organism, Prevotella bryantii, uses to deconstruct hemicellulose into simple sugars.

"If you don't completely understand what is happening, you can't improve it," Cann said. "The U of I's strong history in anaerobic microbiology and genomics, and the EBI's substantial funding enabled us to achieve this milestone. To my knowledge, this was the first time that anyone has systematically demonstrated the deconstruction of the plant cell wall hemicellulose."

Breaking down hemicellulose is one of the biofuels industry's greatest bottlenecks. Currently, the industry has microbes that can ferment simple sugars into liquid fuels such as ethanol and butanol. But they have struggled to break down feedstocks such as corn stover, switchgrass and miscanthus.

"U of I's research has created an enzyme cocktail that can release simple sugars from hemicellulose and in turn, help the biofuels industry progress," Cann said.

Even though researchers used a bacterium from the cow stomach, their results apply to microbes in the human large intestine, too. Human health and nutrition researchers are interested in the similar strategies certain rumen bacteria and human intestinal bacteria use to capture energy from dietary fiber.

"By fermenting the fiber in our diets, the microbes in our large intestine help to provide about 10 percent of our daily energy requirement," he said. "The microbial fermentation products or short-chain fatty acids provide nutrition to the cells that line our intestines."

Cann added that a greater understanding of the large population of microbes in the large intestine can impact a person's health and nutritional status. For example, a simple change in the colon's microbial population can contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel diseases.

"Understanding how different microbes obtain energy may allow us to modify our diets to select for beneficial microbes to promote better health," he said.

The same principles hold true for livestock, he said.

"It's not possible to understand the nutrition of farm animals without understanding the lifestyle of the microbial populations in their gut," Cann said. "Cattle depend on microbes to obtain their energy from both grass and concentrate diets. A better understanding of how microbes capture nutrients from plant matter can help us to make animal agriculture more efficient."

U of I researchers are building on the knowledge gained from this study to understand how two other major rumen bacteria capture energy from cellulose and cellulose/hemicellulose.

This study, "Transcriptomic analyses of xylan degradation by Prevotella bryantii and insights into energy acquisition by xylanolytic Bacteroidetes," was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Researchers include Dylan Dodd, Young Hwan Moon, Kankshita Swaminathan, Roderick Mackie and Isaac Cann of the Energy Biosciences Institute in the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois.

News Writer: Jennifer Shike, 217-244-0888, jshike@illinois.edu

Isaac Cann | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University

nachricht New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>