UCLA researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Clubb have developed recombinant B. subtilis strains that efficiently degrade lignocellulosic biomass. The present invention utilizes a protein display system that enables multi-enzyme complexes to be self-assembled on the surface of B. subtilis. Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of the recombinant B. subtilis strains is its ability to readily degrade and grow on both dilute acid pretreated and untreated biomass. Additional modifications of the protein display system enable the number and types of enzymes displayed to be significantly increased to make even more potent cellulolytic organisms. The cellulolytic B. subtilis cells can be further engineered to develop a CBP that produces biocommodities such as ethanol from biomass. Applications: The present invention can be used to create highly cellulolytic B. subtilis cells that can replace more costly enzyme cocktails that are currently being used in industry to degrade biomass. The protein display system can also be used to engineer B. subtilis as well as other species of Gram-positive bacteria to convert them into CPB or microbes that were dedicated to degrading biomass into sugars. State Of Development: Researchers have developed a prototype that has been demonstrated to successfully degrade lignocellulosic biomass into monosaccharides and oligosaccharides. It has also been demonstrated to grow on lignocellulose as the sole carbon source indicating that these strains have the potential to become a consolidated bioprocessor.
1) Inexpensive alternative for the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. 2) B. subtilis is a robust genetic system making it well suited for metabolic engineering which could enable it to produce other useful compounds. 3) Abundant and inexpensive biomass (corn stover hatched straw and switchgrass).