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Open Access Commentary

From rumen to industry

Michael Sauer12*, Hans Marx1 and Diethard Mattanovich12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biotechnology, BOKU-VIBT University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, Vienna, 1190, Austria

2 Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB GmbH), Muthgasse 11, Vienna, 1190, Austria

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:121  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-121

Published: 10 September 2012

Abstract

The rumen is one of the most complicated and most fascinating microbial ecosystems in nature. A wide variety of microbial species, including bacteria, fungi and protozoa act together to bioconvert (ligno)cellulosic plant material into compounds, which can be taken up and metabolized by the ruminant. Thus, the rumen perfectly resembles a solution to a current industrial problem: the biorefinery, which aims at the bioconversion of lignocellulosic material into fuels and chemicals. We suggest to intensify the studies of the ruminal microbial ecosystem from an industrial microbiologists point of view in order to make use of this rich source of organisms and enzymes.

Keywords:
Rumen; Industrial microbiology; Lignocellulose conversion; Microbial community; Microbial ecosystem; Metabolic engineering; Microbial organic acid production; Biofuels