• Open Access

The potential of bacteria isolated from ruminal contents of seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay sheep to hydrolyse seaweed components and produce methane by anaerobic digestion in vitro

Authors

  • Allan G. Williams,

    1. Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
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  • Susan Withers,

    1. Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
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  • Alastair D. Sutherland

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
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  • Funding Information No funding information provided.

For correspondence. E-mail a.sutherland@gcal.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) 784 513 4508; Fax (+44) 141 331 3208.

Summary

The production of methane biofuel from seaweeds is limited by the hydrolysis of polysaccharides. The rumen microbiota of seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay sheep was studied for polysaccharidic bacterial isolates degrading brown-seaweed polysaccharides. Only nine isolates out of 65 utilized > 90% of the polysaccharide they were isolated on. The nine isolates (eight Prevotella spp. and one Clostridium butyricum) utilized whole Laminaria hyperborea extract and a range of seaweed polysaccharides, including alginate (seven out of nine isolates), laminarin and carboxymethylcellulose (eight out of nine isolates); while two out of nine isolates additionally hydrolysed fucoidan to some extent. Crude enzyme extracts from three of the isolates studied further had diverse glycosidases and polysaccharidase activities; particularly against laminarin and alginate (two isolates were shown to have alginate lyase activity) and notably fucoidan and carageenan (one isolate). In serial culture rumen microbiota hydrolysed a range of seaweed polysaccharides (fucoidan to a notably lesser degree) and homogenates of L. hyperborea, mixed Fucus spp. and Ascophyllum nodosum to produce methane and acetate. The rumen microbiota and isolates represent potential adjunct organisms or enzymes which may improve hydrolysis of seaweed components and thus improve the efficiency of seaweed anaerobic digestion for methane biofuel production.

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