Biodegradation of Lignin via Pseudocitrobacter anthropi MP-4 Isolated From the Gut of Wood-feeding Termite Microtermes pakistanicus (Isoptera: termitidae)

Feng Li, Rongrong Xie, Nian Liang, Jianzhong Sun, Daochen Zhu


Symbiotic bacteria in the termite gut system may play an important role in lignin degradation that can assist the subsequent saccharification process. Pseudocitrobacter anthropi MP-4, which is capable of degrading lignin components and rapidly growing on various lignin analogue dyes, was successfully screened from the gut of a wood-feeding termite Microtermes pakistanicus. Further decolorization tests with this strain showed that the strain MP-4 potentially produced some relevant extracellular enzymes to participate in lignin degradation. The removal rate of chemical oxygen demand by this strain was recorded as high as 52.1% when it was incubated in a mineral-salt medium with lignin as the sole carbon source. For the degrading process of MP-4 on lignin, it was proposed through a series of evaluations by field emission scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, and pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, that the lignin degradation mechanism of the strain MP-4 would primarily include the cleavage of various chemical linkages and the demethylation reactions. This resulted in a change in the S/G ratio and the disappearance of the biphenyl structure in the lignin components. Thus, these findings suggested that the strain MP-4 uniquely presented an attractive capability to deconstruct lignin components from biomass, which may be potentially valuable for a future industrial exploration.


Lignin degradation; Termite gut symbionts; Pseudocitrobacter anthropi; Microtermes pakistanicus

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