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Thermophilic Lignocellulose-Fermenting Microbiomes: Microbial Community Characterization

Grant number: 24/00411-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2024
Effective date (End): March 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering
Principal Investigator:Lee Howard Lynd
Grantee:Carolinne Rosa de Carvalho
Host Institution: Centro de Biologia Molecular e Engenharia Genética (CBMEG). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:18/25682-0 - Advanced second generation biofuels laboratory, AP.BIOEN.SPEC


Cellulose- and hemicellulose-fermenting microorganisms have evolved in the context of microbial communities obtained from undefined environmental innocula, or "lignocellulose microbiomes", with different species playing complementary roles in solubilization and fermentation. Documenting the performance, composition, and underlying mechanisms of thermophilic lignocellulose microbiomes informs the development of defined microbial systems for second-generation biofuel production, and also provides a source of new microbial hosts that could be developed into industrial biocatalysts. Declining fractional carbohydrate solubilization has been documented for pure cultures and binary co-cultures involving Clostridium thermocellum for switchgrass, corn stover, and sugar cane bagasse, but is not observed for lignocellulose microbiomes. This provides added impetus to study such microbiomes to gain insights useful for advancing consolidated bioprocessing. Using omics and bioinformatics tools, we propose to characterize the "lignocellulose microbiome" in taxonomic diversity, functional roles related to the deconstruction of lignocellulose, and gene expression profiles under specific conditions. The analysis of the whole set of functional genes found in the bioreactor samples will enable us to reveal the potential metabolic routes that take place in this system, as well as their assigned microbes. This information may provide subsidies for further optimization of the fermentation process and lignocellulose degradation efficiency. From the omics-information-based data, we will be able to build a strain library by isolating key organisms (primarily geared towards carbohydrate solubilization and utilization), by selecting the most abundant strains or finding complementary strains from known strain libraries in case strains are difficult to isolate. Finally, it is expected to define minimal microbiomes or cocultures to perform solubilization and/or fermentation performance experiments.

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