, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp 1167-1178

Animal cellulases

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Previous dogma has maintained that cellulose, ingested by xylophagous or herbivorous animals, is digested by cellulolytic symbiotes. The first evidence in conflict with this contention involved the demonstration of cellulolytic activities in symbiote-free secreting organs (e.g., the salivary glands of termites) or defaunated guts. Following these demonstrations, possible endogenous cellulase components were purified from several cellulose-digesting invertebrates, but this research did little to change the general view concerning animal cellulose digestion. Thanks to recent developments in molecular biology, the existence of cellulases of animal origin has been firmly established. To date, cellulase genes have been reported from arthropods (insects and a crayfish) and nematodes. This paper describes and discusses the presence and nature of endogenous cellulases in higher animals.