Chitin degradation by cellulolytic anaerobes and facultative aerobes from soils and sediments

Authors

  • Gemma Reguera,

    1. Department of Microbiology, 203 Morrill Science Center IV-N, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
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    • 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

  • Susan B Leschine

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Microbiology, 203 Morrill Science Center IV-N, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
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*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 (413) 545-0673; Fax: +1 (413) 545 1578, E-mail: suel@microbio.umass.edu

Abstract

Species of strictly and facultatively anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria from soils and sediments were examined for the ability to degrade chitin. Of 22 species studied, 16 degraded insoluble chitin. Cellulomonas uda, which was selected for a comparative study of its cellulase and chitinase enzyme systems, produced different enzyme systems for the degradation of cellulose and chitin and different patterns of regulation of production of the two enzyme systems were observed. Moreover, C. uda utilized chitin as a source of nitrogen for the degradation of cellulose. In natural environments, the ability to use chitin as a nitrogen source may confer on cellulolytic microorganisms, such as C. uda, a selective advantage over other cellulolytic microbes.

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