High potential for biomass-degrading CAZymes revealed by pine forest soil metagenomics

The undisturbed environment in Netarhat, with its high levels of accumulated lignocellulosic biomass, presents an opportunity to identify microbes for biomass digestion. This study focuses on the bioprospecting of native soil microbes from the Netarhat forest in Jharkhand, India, with the potential for lignocellulosic substrate digestion. These biocatalysts could help overcome the bottleneck of biomass saccharification and reduce the overall cost of biofuel production, replacing harmful fossil fuels. The study used metagenomic analysis of pine forest soil via whole genome shotgun sequencing, revealing that most of the reads matched with the bacterial species, very low percentage of reads (0.1%) belongs to fungal species, with 13% of unclassified reads. Actinobacteria were found to be predominant among the bacterial species. MetaErg annotation identified 11,830 protein family genes and 2 metabolic marker genes in the soil samples. Based on the Carbohydrate Active EnZyme (CAZy) database, 3,996 carbohydrate enzyme families were identified, with family Glycosyl hydrolase (GH) dominating with 1,704 genes. Most observed GH families in the study were GH0, 3, 5, 6. 9, 12. 13, 15, 16, 39, 43, 57, and 97. Modelling analysis of a representative GH 43 gene suggested a strong affinity for cellulose than xylan. This study highlights the lignocellulosic digestion potential of the native microfauna of the lesser-known pine forest of Netarhat.

Kumari, S., Leon Magdaleno, J. S., Grewal, R. K., Narsing Rao, M. P., Rajjak Shaikh, A., Cavallo, L., Chawla, M., & Kumar, M. (2023). High potential for biomass-degrading CAZymes revealed by pine forest soil metagenomics. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/07391102.2023.2262600

The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.

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