Magic Bacteria

Industrial enzymes such as alpha-amylase and cellulase are in high demand in various industries that deal with textiles, paper, detergents, and pharmaceuticals. The market for such enzymes is expected to reach USD 1.27 billion by 2021.

Every year nearly 100 to 150 million tons of biomass are produced. The international focus has recently been on the use of nonfood lignocellulosic biomass to produce industrially important enzymes and second-generation cellulosic ethanol as an alternative fuel source.

The three main agricultural residues from agriculture industries are:

1. Wheat Bran (WB)
2. Sago Waste (SW)
3. Rice Bran (RB)

These residues are inexpensive and contain abundant amount of carbon and nitrogen sources. However, there are many problems involved in obtaining industrial enzymes from these residues.

The complex structure of these residues limits enzyme hydrolysis. A large amount of enzymes is required to hydrolyze these rigid structures. The process is costly because pretreatment is required followed by hydrolysis with various enzymes.

Thus, there has recently been a lot of focus on identifying a single microorganism which can produce multiple enzymes to solve these issues. In general; bacterial species have many advantages over eukaryotes such as they have rapid growth rates, shorter fermentation cycle time, and have the ability to secrete a significant percentage of extracellular enzymes.

One of the main aims of this study, conducted by Ms. Rekha Rajesh and Prof. Sathyanarayana N. Gummadi from the Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India, is to evaluate the saccharification and fermentation capacity of a previously isolated organism to hydrolyze various low-cost lignocellulosic wastes such as wheat bran, sago waste, and rice bran without pretreatment.

The bacteria used in this study was Bacillus sp. PM06, which was isolated from sugarcane waste press mud by the same research group. When this isolate was grown in the presence of lignocellulosic biomass, starch and cellulose were broken down to yield alpha-amylase and cellulase enzymes. Ethanol and acetic acid were also produced which are also useful in various industries. Because of the rapid fermentation process, the hydrolyzed products do not inhibit enzyme activity, thus making the process cost-effective and sustainable which is the main advantage of this process. Also, it did not require any additional processes such as pretreatment. Wheat bran was found to be the most promising substrate followed by sago waste and rice bran. This study demonstrated simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of different agroresidues by a single novel Bacillus sp. PM06. This research is unique because it takes a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach, producing renewable biofuels. Possible future research could be the use of Bacillus sp. PM06 to produce ethanol on an industrial scale.

Prof. Ashok Pandey from the Centre for Innovation and Translational Research, CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, India, lauded the efforts of the authors by giving the following comments: “The paper on ‘Production of multienzymes, bioethanol, and acetic acid by novel Bacillus sp. PM06 from various lignocellulosic biomass’ authored by Rekha Rajesh and Sathyanarayana N. Gummadi is an excellent work showcasing the feasibility of utilization of agro-industrial residues as feedstock for bioprocesses for the production of industrial enzymes, bioethanol and acetic acid. Considering that India is having a huge surplus of agro-industrial residues, which need a sustainable avenue for their utilization, this study is of great relevance as it works on the principles of biomass-based biorefineries, which offer potential benefits for energy and environmental sustainability. As mentioned by the authors, the ability of the culture to utilize the low-cost agricultural byproducts and produce industrial important enzymes along with biofuel (bioethanol) and organic acid (acetic acid) could be of great relevance for industrial exploitation after its scale-up to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility. My compliments to the authors!”

Article by Akshay Anantharaman
Here is the original link to the paper:


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