The genes and genomes of microbes in the cow rumen represent a valuable source for new biomass-degrading enzymes that might enable processes to more efficiently convert biomass into biofuels. Fungi make up less than 10 percent of the microbial biomass in the rumen and fungal enzymes appear to have higher specific activities towards plant cell wall polymers than bacterial biomass-degrading enzymes. Some enzymes from rumen fungi have biomass-degrading activity that exceeds the activity of biomass-degrading enzymes derived from the industry workhorse fungus, Trichoderma reesei. To identify and catalogue the biomass-degrading enzymes that are produced by fungi and other eukaryotes in the rumen that can colonize and degrade switchgrass and corn stover, the proposal focuses on generating an expression profile of eukaryotic rumen microbes. The catalogue of biomass-degrading enzymes that will result from this project is expected to represent a valuable resource for scientists developing more efficient processes for the production of cellulosic biofuels.
Proposer’s Name: Matthias Hess