Lignocellulose biodegradation: An advance technology
for sustainable environment
Archit Sharma, Rajesh Kumar, Meenu Rathi, Divya Bhatia and Deepak Kumar Malik*
Department of Biotechnology, U.I.E.T, Kurukshetra University Kurukshetra G. M. N College Ambala Cantt,
Haryana, India
The ever increasing energy load has attracted signi cant attention on the development and growth of renewable
resources. Many workers have reported conversion of waste materials to useful compost. Lignocellulose consists of the
three constituents indicated as cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. Lignocellulosic biomass can be reused in the produc-
tion of chemicals and fuels. Cellulose and hemicellulose can be degraded into sugars, which are preliminary source for
fermentation, biocatalytic and chemocatalytic processes to value-added products. A large number of microorganisms
including bacteria and fungi are capable of producing cellulases and hemicellulases but only a limited number of these
microorganisms are capable of producing lignin degrading enzymes. There are numerous methods available for the
isolation of lignocellulose degrading microbial consortium. Lignocellulose compounds are most abundant agricultural
residues present in the world. In this short review, updated account is presented on various aspects of lignocellulose
compounds which can be utilized by fungi, actinomycetes and bacteria. The lignocellulytic utilizing microbial consor-
tium can be used for the conversion of biomass feedstock to useful bio-based products. The use of farming crop wastes
involves a separation of the polymeric compounds - cellulose and hemicelluloses. This approach comes under sustain-
able “green” biotechnology.
Biosci. Biotech. Res. Comm. 11(4): 634-637 (2018)
Corresponding Authors:
Received 10
Sep, 2018
Accepted after revision 21
Dec, 2018
BBRC Print ISSN: 0974-6455
Online ISSN: 2321-4007 CODEN: USA BBRCBA
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Online Contents Available at:
DOI: 10.21786/bbrc/11.4/14
Archit Sharma et al.
Lignocellulosic biomass consists mainly of cellulose
(35–50%), hemicellulose (25–30%) and lignin (25–30%).
The plant biomass is a carbon source for bio-re nery
industry, considered as sustainable and environmental
friendly substitute to the current petroleum platform
(Kamm et al., 2004). The composition of lignocelluloses
not only depends upon the species but also on the dif-
ferent parts of the plant, their age and growth conditions
(Jorgensen, 2003). The large quantity of lignocellulosic
materials create them potentially inexpensive and easily
available natural resources for the production of high
value compounds and biofuels. The degradation of cel-
lulose, hemicelluloses and lignin are extremely slow.
The various microorganisms are capable of growing on
lignocellulosic materials and produce a wide range of
enzymes that could be of scienti c or industrial impor-
tance, (Varma et al. 2017 Tolalpa et al. 2018) .
It is homopolysaccharide constituent of the  ber wall,
consists of D-glucose linked together by ß-1, 4-gly-
cosidic bonds. Cellulose form intra- or intermolecular
hydrogen bonds resulting in the formation of cellulose
micro brils. Due to hydrogen bond it is not soluble in
most solvents and resistance against microbial degrada-
tion (Jorgensen, 2003). It is hydrolyzed by cellulase, 1,
4-ß-cellobiosidase and ß-glucosidase (Schmidt, 2006).
Cellulases hydrolyses cellulose consists of cellobiohy-
drolases, endoglucanases and ß-glucosidase. The cello-
biohydrolase and endoglucanase function together for
hydrolyzing 1, 4-ß-D-glycosidic linkages in cellulose,
cello-oligomers and other ß-D-glucans and to form cel-
lobiose from the non-reducing ends, which are degraded
by ß-glucosidase to glucose units.
It consists of monomeric residues, like D-glucuronic acid,
D-mannose, D-arabinose, D-glucose and D-xylose. They
have lesser degree of polymerization in comparison to
cellulose, with side chains that can be acetylated. They are
classi ed according to the monomeric sugar in the back-
bone of the polymer, e.g. mannan (ß-1, 4-linked mannose)
or xylan (ß-1, 4-linked xylose) hemicelluloses. The main
chains of glucose and mannose residues are generally
associated with ß-(1, 4) bond. The side chain is attached
to main chain via a-(1, 6) bonds in galactoglucomannan.
Xylan can be degraded by endo-1, 4-ß-xylanase and 1,
4-ß-xylosidase to xylose (Jorgensen, 2003). Due to more
heterogenous nature of hemicellulose, a combination of
enzymes is necessary for its degradation, such as endoxy-
lanases, ß-xylosidases, endomannanases, ß-mannosi-
dases, a-L-arabinofuranosidases and a-galactosidases.
It is very much hydrophobic and forms an amorphous
complex with hemicelluloses enclosing cellulose and
make unavailable to microbial utilization of available
carbohydrates within the wood cell wall. It is jointing
component to attach cells and harden the cell wall of
xylem, which is accountable for the smooth move-
ment of water from roots to leaves. Its aromatic rings
are responsible to create it trickier to degrade (Schmidt,
2006). Ester linkages take place among the free carboxy
group in hemicellulose and the benzyl groups in lignin,
the lignicarbohydrate complex (LCC), embeds the cel-
lulose, which is resposibe for giving protection against
microbial and chemical degradation (Jeffries, 1994).
The lignin is not to be utilized by most of the micro-
organisms due to its phenylpropane units in the struc-
ture (Schmidt, 2006). Now days there are huge atten-
tion in isolating organisms able to degrade lignin, in the
cleaving of the chemical bonds that are present between
lignin and hemicelluloses. The continuous utilization of
these compounds is extremely slow. The microorgan-
isms isolated from from soil and rumens are capable to
degrade in to sugars, which can be utilized as energy
and carbon source by a variety of microorganisms for
the production of different products.
Role of microbial consortium in utilization of
lignocellulose biomass
Kumar et al. (2001) isolated Branhamella catarrhal, Bro-
chothrix sp., Micrococcus luteus and Bacillus  rmus
from cane sugar factory ef uent contaminated soil. All
microbes can use cinnamic acid as sole carbon source
with signi cant inhibition after addition of glucose. The
B. catarrhalis and Brochothrix sp. were able of metabo-
lizing ferulic acid but not in the presence of glucose.
The lignocellulolytic enzyme pro les of  ve strains of
Agaricus and four strains of Pleurotus were determined
by Rana and Rana in 2004. The crude enzyme from the
colonized substrate was used to analysis the enzymatic
activities. All strains of Agaricus showed higher level of
cellulases activities in comparison of Pleurotus strains.
The Pleurotus sp. exhibits high ligninases activity. The
difference in lignocellulolytic enzyme summary was
present both at interspecies and intraspecies point. The
lignocellulose utilization in solid state fermentation in
sugarcane bagasse and rice straw by Aspergillus tamari
was isolated by Umasaravanan et al. (2010). The micro-
organisms isolated from marine environment which can
utilize the lignocellulosic biomass were showed by Sethi
et al. (2013).
The organisms showing maximum degradation were
recognized as Bacillus pumilus and Mesorhizzobium sp.,
as well two fungal sp. recognized as Aspergillus niger
Archit Sharma et al.
and Trichodermaviride. The organisms showed different
levels of utilization at different time point in a diversity
of substrates. The thermophilic microbial consortium was
isolated by Malik et al. (2015) from sugarcane industry
mature compost. The consortium was able to degrade
rice straw. The lignin can be productively degraded by
white-rot fungi, producing a number of oxidoreductases,
enzymes able to attack phenolic structures. Varma et al.
(2017) studied about those microbes which were actively
involved in lignocelluloses degradation during drum
composting of mixed organic waste i.e. saw dust, cat-
tle manure, dry leaves and vegetable waste in a 550 L
rotary drum composter.
An anaerobic thermophilic bacterial strains for eth-
anol production from D-xylose was reported by Som-
mer et al. (2004). Lu et al. (2004) reported Clostridium
phytofermentans, responsible for the maximum number
of enzymes for the utilization of lignocellulosic biomass
between sequenced Clostridial genomes. The Clostridium
thermocellum generate a collection of cellulolytic and
hemicellulolytic enzymes in a multienzyme complex
system are known as cellulosome. The cellulosome was
rstly reported in anaerobic bacteria such as Clostridium
thermocellum in 1983 and then in anaerobic fungi in
1992 (Wilson et al., 1992). Abd-Elsalam et al. (2009) iso-
lated bacterial strains KafAH19 degrade synthetic lignin
and use as a carbon source. The strain was biochemically
characterized as gram-positive rod. By using 16S rDNA
sequencing the culture was recognized as Bacillus sp..
The lignocellulose utilizing microbes by using a selec-
tive media using lignin, xylan and cellulose as selective
substrates was isolated by Wahyudi et al. (2010). The
isolates were recognized as Enterococcus casseli avus/
gallinarum sp. Wongwilaiwalin et al. (2010) worked on
thermophilic lignocellulose utilizing microbial con-
sortium and multi-species lignocellulolytic enzymatic
involvement. Gontikaki et al. (2015) observed that the
pro cient degradation of terr OC in the marine environ-
ment could be fuelled by labile marine based objects
by treating coastal sediments with 13C-lignocellulose,
as a proxy for terrOC, in the presence and absence of
unlabelled diatom detritus that acted as the important
inducer. The amount of priming was viewed by the dif-
ferentiation in lignocellulose mineralisation between
diatom-amended treatments and controls in aerobic
sediment slurries.
Ransom-Jones et al. (2017) have reported that land ll
sites symbolize a repository of uncultivated lignocellu-
lose-degrading Microbes such as Firmicutes, Bacteroi-
detes, Spirochaetes, and Fibrobacteres, which are rich
source for biomass degradation. According to Cortes-
Tolalpa et al. (2017), Lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) is a
striking source of carbon for the production of sugars
and other useful chemicals. Due to its innate density
and heterogeneity, pro cient biodegradation requires
the actions of diverse and various types of hydrolytic
enzymes. So, they observed that the wheat straw degra-
dation potential of synthetic microbial consortia com-
posed of bacteria and fungi.
Alessi et al. (2018) explored the enzymatic degrada-
tion of lignin which is complicated due to its structural
complexity, lack of hydrolysable linkages and insoluble
nature and also discuss the developments in the degra-
dation of lignin by microorganisms and the catabolic
pathways for degradation of lignin. Mohn et al. (2018)
illustrate that by applying stable isotope probing (SIP)
coupled with amplicon and shotgun metagenomics, it is
possible to recognize and describe the functional attrib-
utes of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin - degrad-
ing bacteria and fungi. The halotolerant lignocellulose
degrading microbial consortia was isolated by Cortes-
Tolalpa et al. (2018) by feeding a salt marsh soil micro-
biome on an intractable carbon and energy source, i.e.,
wheat straw.
Conclusion and future prospects
Lignocellulose compounds are most abundant agricul-
tural residues present in the world. There are various
reports that lignocellulose compounds can be utilized
by fungi, action mycetes and bacteria. The lingo cel-
lulytic utilizing microbial consortium can be used for
the conversion of biomass feedstock to useful bio-based
products. The use of farming crop wastes involves a
separation of the polymeric compounds - cellulose and
hemicelluloses. This approach comes under sustainable
“green” biotechnology.
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