Microbiome of fungus-growing termites: A new reservoir for lignocellulase genes

Ning Liu, Xing Yan, Meiling Zhang, Lei Xie, Qian Wang, Yongping Huang, Xuguo Zhou, Shengyue Wang, Zhihua Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Fungus-growing termites play an important role in lignocellulose degradation and carbon mineralization in tropical and subtropical regions, but the degradation potentiality of their gut microbiota has long been neglected. The high quality and quantity of intestinal microbial DNA are indispensable for exploring new cellulose genes from termites by function-based screening. Here, using a refined intestinal microbial DNA extraction method followed by multiple-displacement amplification (MDA), a fosmid library was constructed from the total microbial DNA isolated from the gut of a termite growing in fungi. Functional screening for endoglucanase, cellobiohydrolase, β-glucosidase, and xylanase resulted in 12 β-glucosidase-positive clones and one xylanase-positive clone. The sequencing result of the xylanase-positive clone revealed an 1,818-bp open reading frame (ORF) encoding a 64.5-kDa multidomain endo-1,4-β-xylanase, designated Xyl6E7, which consisted of an N-terminal GH11 family catalytic domain, a CBM-4-9 domain, and a Listeria-Bacteroides repeat domain. Xyl6E7 was a highly active, substrate-specific, and endo-acting alkaline xylanase with considerably wide pH tolerance and stability but extremely low thermostability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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