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The hemicellulolytic enzyme arsenal of Thermobacillus xylanilyticus depends on the composition of biomass used for growth

Harivony Rakotoarivonina12*, Béatrice Hermant12, Nina Monthe12 and Caroline Rémond12

Author Affiliations

1 UMR FARE614 Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France

2 UMR FARE614 INRA, Reims, France

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:159  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-159

Published: 14 December 2012



Thermobacillus xylanilyticus is a thermophilic and highly xylanolytic bacterium. It produces robust and stable enzymes, including glycoside hydrolases and esterases, which are of special interest for the development of integrated biorefineries. To investigate the strategies used by T. xylanilyticus to fractionate plant cell walls, two agricultural by-products, wheat bran and straw (which differ in their chemical composition and tissue organization), were used in this study and compared with glucose and xylans. The ability of T. xylanilyticus to grow on these substrates was studied. When the bacteria used lignocellulosic biomass, the production of enzymes was evaluated and correlated with the initial composition of the biomass, as well as with the evolution of any residues during growth.


Our results showed that T. xylanilyticus is not only able to use glucose and xylans as primary carbon sources but can also use wheat bran and straw. The chemical compositions of both lignocellulosic substrates were modified by T. xylanilyticus after growth. The bacteria were able to consume 49% and 20% of the total carbohydrates in bran and straw, respectively, after 24 h of growth. The phenolic and acetyl ester contents of these substrates were also altered. Bacterial growth on both lignocellulosic biomasses induced hemicellulolytic enzyme production, and xylanase was the primary enzyme secreted. Debranching activities were differentially produced, as esterase activities were more important to bacterial cultures grown on wheat straw; arabinofuranosidase production was significantly higher in bacterial cultures grown on wheat bran.


This study provides insight into the ability of T. xylanilyticus to grow on abundant agricultural by-products, which are inexpensive carbon sources for enzyme production. The composition of the biomass upon which the bacteria grew influenced their growth, and differences in the biomass provided resulted in dissimilar enzyme production profiles. These results indicate the importance of using different biomass sources to encourage the production of specific enzymes.

Thermobacillus xylanilyticus; Hemicellulases production; Growth; Wheat bran; Wheat straw