Engineering of a Bacillus subtilis Strain Deficient in Cellulase: Application in Degumming of Ramie
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Degumming is the most important step before ramie fibers are used in textile industry. Conventional chemical degumming technology with alkaline treatment at high temperature causes critical problems in environment. In addition to multiple degumming enzymes (e.g. pectinases and xylanases), Bacillus subtilis strain 168 can also produce cellulase which brings irreversible damage to ramie fibers. In this study, a strain deficient in cellulase was constructed by insertional inactivation of gene eglS to make it suitable for microbial degumming. Results showed that the cellulase activity was not detected in strain ΔeglS, after 25 h of incubation with strain ΔeglS, the weight loss of the ramie fibers was 20.20 %. Though the residual gum content of ramie fibers obtained in microbial degumming process was 19.67 %, microbial intervention followed by diluted alkaline solution treatment showed lower residual gum content (2.73 %) than chemical degumming (2.96 %). The single fiber breaking strength value of ramie fibers from bio-chemical degumming process reached 27.19 cN, which was the highest of three samples. Moreover, bio-chemical degumming process resulted in a 75 % decrease of alkali dosage as compared with chemical degumming process. This study provides a suggestion to genetically modify wild-type strain in order to protect ramie fibers from cellulase damage, and indicates a sustainable alternative for the traditional chemical degumming in the textile industry.
KeywordsRamie fibers Microbial degumming Bacillus subtilis eglS Insertional inactivation
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