Indian scientists have stumbled upon a new genus of anaerobic lignocellulose-degrading bacteria with hydrogen production capability in a hot spring from Maharashtra. The study is published in the journal Archives of Microbiology. It could be a source of clean and renewable energy, they noted.
The scientists under the Bioenergy Group at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, has been studying the microbial diversity of anaerobic microorganisms that break down lignocellulose in a variety of environmental niches, including rumen, termites, compost, mangrove sediments, and hot springs for the past one decade.
Several novel bacterial, fungal, and methanogenic species were discovered, as per a recently published paper of the journal Archives of Microbiology. They noted that a bacteria called Sporanaerobium hydrogeniformans produces hydrogen as a byproduct of its metabolism.
Sporanaerobium hydrogeniformans is part of the Lachnospiraceae family, whose members are known as the most effective polysaccharide degraders due to their capacity to synthesise free or complicated hydrolytic enzymes. The structural elements of lignocellulosic agricultural wastes, cellulose and xylan, can be broken down by this bacterium.
A collection of thermostable hydrolytic enzymes reported in Sporanaerobium hydrogeniformans makes the bacterium significant for use in industry.
The researchers also discovered that the bacteria can grow optimally at high temperatures of 45–50°C and an alkaline pH of 8.0. The bacteria may be a candidate for biohydrogen generation from agricultural leftovers in accordance with waste-to-energy legislation in India.
Additionally, genomic research uncovered that new bacterium possesses a special metabolic route for converting a variety of simple and complex substrates into hydrogen and ethanol.
Discovery of Sporanaerobium hydrogeniformans opens up new directions for investigation into the production of biohydrogen gas as a long-term energy source. Additionally, it emphasises the value of researching microbes in hostile habitats like hot springs, where rare and important species might be found, said the scientists.
They are hoping that more research on this bacterium will lead to the creation of innovative and effective processes for producing biohydrogen gas, which could decrease reliance on fossil fuels.