Cellulolytic bacteria from soils in harsh environments

  • Fábio Lino SoaresJr.
  • Itamar Soares Melo
  • Armando Cavalcante Franco Dias
  • Fernando Dini AndreoteEmail author
Original Paper


It is believed that the exposure of organisms to harsh climate conditions may select for differential enzymatic activities, making the surviving organisms a very promising source for bioprospecting. Soil bacteria play an important role in degradation of organic matter, which is mostly due to their ability to decompose cellulose-based materials. This work focuses on the isolation and identification of cellulolytic bacteria from soil found in two environments with stressful climate conditions (Antarctica and the Brazilian semi-arid caatinga). Cellulolytic bacteria were selected using enrichments at high and low temperatures (4 or 60°C) in liquid media (trypic soy broth—TSB and minimum salt medium—MM) supplemented with cellulose (1%). Many of the isolates (119 out of 254—46.9%) displayed the ability to degrade carboxymethyl-cellulose, indicating the presence of endoglucolytic activity, while only a minority of these isolates (23 out of 254—9.1%) showed exoglucolytic activity (degradation of avicel). The obtained isolates revealed a preferential endoglucolytic activity according to the temperature of enrichments. Also, the identification of some isolates by partial sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene indicated that the Bacteroidetes (e.g., Pedobacter, Chryseobacterium and Flavobacterium) were the main phylum of cellulolytic bacteria isolated from soil in Antarctica; the Firmicutes (e.g., Bacillus) were more commonly isolated from samples from the caatinga; and Actinobacteria were found in both types of soil (e.g., Microbacterium and Arthrobacter). In conclusion, this work reports the isolation of bacteria able to degrade cellulose-based material from soil at very low or very high temperatures, a finding that should be further explored in the search for cellulolytic enzymes to be used in the bioenergy industry.


Antarctica Caatinga Cellulose Endoglucanase Exoglucanase 



This work was financially supported by Embrapa. We also thank Dr. Vivian H. Pellizari for the soil samples from Antarctica and the Brazilian Marine corps for support during the Antarctica expeditions.


  1. Aislabiea JM, Jordan SB, Barker GM (2008) Relation between soil classification and bacterial diversity in soils of the Ross Sea region. Antarctica Geoderma 144:9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnard D, Casanueva A, Tuffin M, Cowan D (2010) Extremophiles in biofuel synthesis. Environ Technol 31:871–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beyer L (2000) Properties, formation and geo-ecological, significance of organic soils in the coastal region of east Antarctica. Catena 39:79–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer L, White DM, Bolter M (2001) Soil organic matter composition, transformation, and microbial colonisation of Gelic Podzols in the coastal region of East Antarctica. Austr J Soil Res 39:543–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhat MK (2000) Cellulase and related enzymes in biotechnology. Biotechnol Adv 18:355–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bisaria VS, Ghose TK (1981) Biodegration of cellulosic materials: substrates, microrganisms, enzymes and products. Enzy and Micr Technol 3:90–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blumer-Schuette SE, Kateava I, Westpheling J, Adams MWW, Kelly RM (2008) Extremely thermophilic microrganisms for biomass conversion: status and prospects. Curr Opin Biotechnol 19:210–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Booth IR, Cash P, O`Bryne C (2002) Sensing and adapting to acid stress. Ant van Leu 81:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chandrasekaran A, Bharadwaj R, Park JI, Sapra R, Adams PD, Singh AK (2010) A microscale platform for integrated cell-free expression and activity screening of cellulases. J Prot Res 9:5677–5683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clarke A (2003) Evolution, adaptation and diversity: global ecology in an Antartic context. Antar Biol in a Glo Context 3–17Google Scholar
  11. D’ Amico S, Collins T, Marx JC, Feller G, Gerday C (2006) Psychrophilic microorganisms: challenges for life. Embo Rep 7:385–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duan CJ, Feng JX (2010) Mining metagenomes for novel cellulase genes. Biotechnol Lett 32:1765–1775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferrer M, Golyshina O, Beloqui A, Golyshina PN (2007) Mining enzymes from extreme environments. Curr Opin in Microbiol 10:207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gorlach-Lira K, Coutinho HDM (2007) Population dynamics and extracellular enzymes activity of mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria isolated from semi-arid soil of northeastern Brazil. Braz J Microbiol 38:135–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hendricks CW, Doyle JD, Hugley B (1995) A new solid medium for enumerating cellulose utilizing bacteria in soil. Appl Environ Microbiol 61:2016–2019Google Scholar
  16. Hesami S, Allen KJ, Metcalf D, Ostland VE, Macnnes JI, Lumsdem JS (2008) Phenotypic and genotypic analysis of Flavobacterium psychrophilum isolates from Ontario salmonids with bacterial coldwater disease. Cana J Microbiol 54:619–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hough DW, Danson MJ (1999) Extremozymes. Curr Opin Chem Bio 3:39–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kasana RC, Salwan R, Dhar H, Dutt S, Gulati A (2008) Arapid and easy method for the detection of microbial cellulases on agar plates using gram’s iodine. Curr Microbiol 57:503–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lane DJ, Pace B, Olsen GJ, Stahl DA, Sogin ML, Pace NR (1985) Rapid-determination of 16S ribosomal-RNA sequences for phylogenetic analyses. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 82:6955–6959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leschine S (1995) Cellulose degradation in anaerobic environments. Ann Rev of Microbiol 49:399–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lin H, Li W, Guo C, Qu S, Ren N (2011) Advances in the study of directed evolution for cellulases. Front Environ Sci Eng 5:519–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Margesin R, Feller G (2010) Biotechnol Appl psychrophiles Environ Technol 31:835–844Google Scholar
  23. Martinez-Sáchez JL (2005) Nitrogen and phosphorus resorption in a neo tropical rain forest of a nutrient-rich soil. Rev Bio Trop 53:193–206Google Scholar
  24. Morais S, Heyman A, Barak Y, Caspi J, Wilson DB, Lamed R, Shoseyov O, Bayer EA (2010) Enhanced cellulose degradation by nano-complexed enzymes: synergism between a scaffold-linked exoglucanase and a free endoglunase. J Biotechnol 147:205–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nicolaus B, Kambourova M, Oner ET (2010) Exopolysaccharides from extremophiles: from fundamentals to biotechnology. Environ Technol 31:1145–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Niederberger TD, Mcdonald IR, Hacker AL, Soo RM, Barret JE, Wall DH, Cary SC (2008) Microbial community composition in soils of Northern Victoria Land. Antar Environ Microbiol 10:1713–1724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Niehaus F, Betoldo C, Kahler M, Antranikian G (1999) Extremophiles as a source of novel enzymes for industrial application. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 51:711–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peng G, Zhu W, Wang H, Lu Y, Wang X, Zheng D, Cui Z (2010) Functional characteristics and diversity of a novel lignocelluloses degrading composite microbial system with high xylanase activity. J Microbiol Biotechnol 20:254–264Google Scholar
  29. Poli A, Anzelmo G, Nicolaus B (2010) Bacterial exopolysaccharides from extreme marine habitats: production, characterization and biological activities. Mar Drugs 8:1779–1802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rademaker JLW, Louws FJ and De Bruijn FJ (1997) Characterization of the diversity of ecologically impornant microbes by rep-PCR genomic fingerprinting. In: Akkermans ADL, Van Elsas JD and De Bruijn JD. Molecular Microbial Ecology Manual, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Supplement 3, chapter 3.4.3, pp. 1–26Google Scholar
  31. Rastogi G, Muppidi GL, Gurram RN, Adhikari A, Bischoff KM, Hughes SR, Apel WA, Bang SS, Dixon DJ, Sani RK (2009) Isolation and characterization of cellulose bacteria from the deep subsurface of the Homestake gold mine, Lead, South Dakota, USA. J Indus Microbiol Biotechnol 36:585–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rastogi G, Bhalla A, Adhikari A, Bischoff KM, Hughes SR, Christopher LP, Sani RK (2010) Characterization of thermostable cellulases produced by Bacillus and Geobacillus strains. Bioresour Technol 101:8798–8806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sinegani AAS, Mahohi A (2010) Soil water potential effects on the cellulase activities of soil treated with sewage sludge. Plant Soil Environ 56:333–339Google Scholar
  34. Tamura K, Dudley J, Nei M, Kumar S (2007) MEGA4: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis (MEGA) software versión 4.0. Mol Biol Evolu 24:1596–1599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Teather RM, Wood PJ (1982) Use of Congo red-polissaccahride interactions in enumeration and characterization on cellulolytic bacteria from the bovine rumen. Appl Environ Microbiol 43:777–780Google Scholar
  36. Tengerdy RP, Szakacs G (2003) Bioconversion of lignocellulose in solid substrate fermentation. Biochem Eng J 13:169–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tindall BJ (2004) Prokaryotic diversity in the Antarctic: the tip of the iceberg. Microb Ecol 47:271–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Van Den Burg B (2003) Extremophiles as a source for novel enzymes. Curr Opin Microbiol 6:213–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wang G, Wang Y, Yang P, Luo H, Huang H, Shi P, Meng K, Yao B (2010) Molecular detection and diversity of xylanase genes in alpine tundra soil. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 87:1383–1393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wilson DB (2009) Cellulases and biofuels. Curr Opin Biotechnol 20:295–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wilson ZE, Brimble MA (2009) Molecules derived from the extremes of life. Nat Prod Rep 26:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yu Y, Li H, Zeng Y, Chen B (2009) Extracellular enzymes of cold-adapted bacteria from Arctic sea ice, Canada basin. Polar Biol 32:1539–1547CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fábio Lino SoaresJr.
    • 1
    • 2
  • Itamar Soares Melo
    • 2
  • Armando Cavalcante Franco Dias
    • 3
  • Fernando Dini Andreote
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Microbial Ecology, NIB, Center of Biotechnological ResearchesUniversity of Mogi das CruzesMogi das CruzesBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Environmental MicrobiologyEmbrapaJaguariúnaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Soil Science, ESALQ/USPUniversity of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratory of Soil Microbiology, Department of Soil Science, “Luiz de Queiroz” College of AgricultureUniversity of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil

Personalised recommendations