International Microbiology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 29–39 | Cite as

Isolation and Characterization of Novel Lignolytic, Cellulolytic, and Hemicellulolytic Bacteria from Wood-Feeding Termite Cryptotermes brevis

  • Bahiru TsegayeEmail author
  • Chandrajit Balomajumder
  • Partha Roy
Original Article


In a natural ecosystem, various organisms digest and hydrolyze lignocellulose biomass efficiently. Termites are one of them. They digest lignocellulose biomass with the help of symbiotic microorganisms in their gut. Therefore, termites gut may harbor potential sources of microorganisms capable to degrade lignocellulose biomass. In this study, termite gut microbiomes of Cryptotermes brevis species were isolated and identified for their capability to degrade lignin and polysaccharides. Alkali lignin, carboxymethylcellulose, and xylan were used as the only carbon sources in the medium to isolate lignin-, cellulose-, and hemicellulose-degrading bacteria. By this method, two bacteria strains, Bacillus sp. BMP01 and Ochrobactrum oryzae BMP03 strain were isolated and identified. Bacillus sp. BMP01 strain has capabilities to hydrolyze carboxymethylcellulose and xylan to glucose and xylose, respectively. This strain showed high xylanase activity (about 0.21 U/ml) and carboxymethyl cellulase activity (about 0.25 U/ml). The ability to hydrolyze both carboxymethylcellulose and xylan makes it superior to other known cellulolytic bacteria. Ochrobactrum oryzae BMP03 strain showed laccase activity, which indicates its ability to depolymerize lignin. Lignocellulose-degrading bacteria play a vital role in the biological conversion of lignocellulose biomass to biofuel. Overall, this study shows that termite’s gut microbiomes are potential sources of lignocellulose-degrading bacteria that can be cultured and used in the biological conversion of lignocellulose biomass to biofuel.


Termite guts Bacteria Isolation Degradation Carboxymethylcellulose Bacillus 



The authors are thankful to the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India for providing necessary facilities and technical support. Our gratitude will extend to the National Center for Microbial Resources, Pune, India for performing 16S rRNA sequencing. One of the authors, Bahiru Tsegaye would like to thank the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia for providing him, fellowship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10123_2018_24_MOESM1_ESM.docx (366 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 365 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia

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