Composition and Yield of Non-Cellulosic and Cellulosic Sugars in Soluble and Particulate Fractions During Consolidated Bioprocessing of Poplar Biomass by Clostridium thermocellum

Ajaya Biswal, Neal Hengge, Ian Black, Melani Atmodjo, Sushree Mohanty, David Ryno, Michael Himmel, Parastoo Azadi, Yannick Bomble, Debra Mohnen

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2 Scopus Citations


Background: Terrestrial plant biomass is the primary renewable carbon feedstock for enabling transition to a sustainable bioeconomy. Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) by the cellulolytic thermophile Clostridium thermocellum offers a single step microbial platform for production of biofuels and biochemicals via simultaneous solubilization of carbohydrates from lignocellulosic biomass and conversion to products. Here, solubilization of cell wall cellulosic, hemicellulosic, and pectic polysaccharides in the liquor and solid residues generated during CBP of poplar biomass by C. thermocellum was analyzed. Results: The total amount of biomass solubilized in the C. thermocellum DSM1313 fermentation platform was 5.8, 10.3, and 13.7% of milled non-pretreated poplar after 24, 48, and 120 h, respectively. These results demonstrate solubilization of 24% cellulose and 17% non-cellulosic sugars after 120 h, consistent with prior reports. The net solubilization of non-cellulosic sugars by C. thermocellum (after correcting for the uninoculated control fermentations) was 13 to 36% of arabinose (Ara), xylose (Xyl), galactose (Gal), mannose (Man), and glucose (Glc); and 15% and 3% of fucose and glucuronic acid, respectively. No rhamnose was solubilized and 71% of the galacturonic acid (GalA) was solubilized. These results indicate that C. thermocellum may be selective for the types and/or rate of solubilization of the non-cellulosic wall polymers. Xyl, Man, and Glc were found to accumulate in the fermentation liquor at levels greater than in uninoculated control fermentations, whereas Ara and Gal did not accumulate, suggesting that C. thermocellum solubilizes both hemicelluloses and pectins but utilizes them differently. After five days of fermentation, the relative amount of Rha in the solid residues increased 21% indicating that the Rha-containing polymer rhamnogalacturonan I (RG-I) was not effectively solubilized by C. thermocellum CBP, a result confirmed by immunoassays. Comparison of the sugars in the liquor versus solid residue showed that C. thermocellum solubilized hemicellulosic xylan and mannan, but did not fully utilize them, solubilized and appeared to utilize pectic homogalacturonan, and did not solubilize RG-I. Conclusions: The significant relative increase in RG-I in poplar solid residues following CBP indicates that C. thermocellum did not solubilize RG-I. These results support the hypothesis that this pectic glycan may be one barrier for efficient solubilization of poplar by C. thermocellum.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number23
Number of pages18
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-82404


  • Cellulose
  • Clostridium thermocellum
  • Consolidated bioprocessing
  • Hemicellulose (xylan)
  • Lignin
  • Non-cellulosic wall polysaccharides
  • Pectin
  • Populus


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