Microbial Cellulases: Role in Second-Generation Ethanol Production

  • Anita Saini
  • Neeraj K. Aggarwal
  • Anita Yadav


Cellulases are a group of hydrolytic enzymes, which work together as a system, to catalyze the hydrolysis of cellulose. Cellulose is a high-molecular-weight linear homopolymer of D-glucopyranose units linked together with β-(l → 4)-glycosidic bonds, with cellobiose dimer being the repeating unit. In nature, cellulose is present in the plant cell walls, in a matrix of hemicellulose and lignin. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on the earth. The renewability of the cellulosic biomass makes it an attractive feedstock for various industrial applications. Nowadays bioethanol production from cellulose, also known as second-generation ethanol production, is the most extensively employed practice, being carried out globally to ensure energy security for future generations by providing a cleaner fuel technology. However, the usefulness of cellulose in ethanol production depends on its conversion into glucose, which can be carried out both chemically as well as enzymatically. Owing to various disadvantages, the chemical methods involving the use of acids are avoided and needed to be replaced with biological methods involving the use of cellulolytic enzymes. Cellulose hydrolysis is mediated by three major types of cellulases, i.e., exoglucanases, endoglucanases, and β-glucosidases. Cellulases are produced naturally by a wide variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes. In the second-generation ethanol production, the cost of cellulases is among major economic barriers. However, the exploitation of the microbial cellulolytic systems after their genetic improvement and the other industrially relevant strategies of enzyme production and recycling can make the ethanol production process economical for its wide-scale utilization at the commercial levels.


Bioethanol production Cellulases Lignocellulose Microorganisms Second generation ethanol 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Saini
    • 1
  • Neeraj K. Aggarwal
    • 1
  • Anita Yadav
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyKurukshetra UniversityKurukshetraIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyKurukshetra UniversityKurukshetraIndia

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