The characteristics of insoluble softwood substrates affect fungal morphology, secretome composition, and hydrolytic efficiency of enzymes produced by Trichoderma reesei
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

On-site enzyme production using Trichoderma reesei can improve yields and lower the overall cost of lignocellulose saccharification by exploiting the fungal gene regulatory mechanism that enables it to continuously adapt enzyme secretion to the substrate used for cultivation. To harness this, the interrelation between substrate characteristics and fungal response must be understood. However, fungal morphology or gene expression studies often lack structural and chemical substrate characterization. Here, T. reesei QM6a was cultivated on three softwood substrates: northern bleached softwood Kraft pulp (NBSK) and lodgepole pine pretreated either by dilute-acid-catalyzed steam pretreatment (LP-STEX) or mild alkaline oxidation (LP-ALKOX). With different pretreatments of similar starting materials, we presented the fungus with systematically modified substrates. This allowed the elucidation of substrate-induced changes in the fungal response and the testing of the secreted enzymes’ hydrolytic strength towards the same substrates.
Enzyme activity time courses correlated with hemicellulose content and cellulose accessibility. Specifically, increased amounts of side-chain-cleaving hemicellulolytic enzymes in the protein produced on the complex substrates (LP-STEX; LP-ALKOX) was observed by secretome analysis. Confocal laser scanning micrographs showed that fungal micromorphology responded to changes in cellulose accessibility and initial culture viscosity. The latter was caused by surface charge and fiber dimensions, and likely restricted mass transfer, resulting in morphologies of fungi in stress. Supplementing a basic cellulolytic enzyme mixture with concentrated T. reesei supernatant improved saccharification efficiencies of the three substrates, where cellulose, xylan, and mannan conversion was increased by up to 27, 45, and 2800%, respectively. The improvement was most pronounced for proteins produced on LP-STEX and LP-ALKOX on those same substrates, and in the best case, efficiencies reached those of a state-of-the-art commercial enzyme preparation. Conclusion:
Cultivation of T. reesei on LP-STEX and LP-ALKOX produced a protein mixture that increased the hydrolytic strength of a basic cellulase mixture to state-of-the-art performance on softwood substrates. This suggests that the fungal adaptation mechanism can be exploited to achieve enhanced performance in enzymatic hydrolysis without a priori knowledge of specific substrate requirements.

Enzyme production

Softwood substrates

Enzymatic hydrolysis


Substrate sensing

Trichoderma reesei


Vera Novy

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Chalmers, Biologi och bioteknik, Industriell bioteknik

F. Nielsen

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Daniel Cullen

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Grzegorz Sabat

University of Wisconsin Madison

Carl J. Houtman

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Christopher G. Hunt

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Biotechnology for Biofuels

17546834 (ISSN) 1754-6834 (eISSN)

Vol. 14 1 105


Biokemi och molekylärbiologi

Biokatalys och enzymteknik

Annan industriell bioteknik





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