Purification and characterization of a thermostable alkaline cellulase produced by Bacillus licheniformis 380 isolated from compost

ABSTRACT During composting processes, the degradation of organic waste is accomplished and driven by a succession of microbial populations exhibiting a broad range of functional competencies. A total of 183 bacteria, isolated from a composting process, were evaluated for cellulase activity at different temperatures (37, 50, 60, and 70°C) and pH values. Out of the 22 isolates that showed activity, isolate 380 showed the highest cellulase activity. Its ability to produce cellulase was evaluated in culture medium supplemented with carboxymethyl cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, wheat straw, and rice husk. The culture medium supplemented with carboxymethyl cellulose induced higher enzyme activity after 6 hours of incubation (0.12 UEA mL-1 min-1). For wheat straw and rice husk, the results were 0.08 UEA mL-1 min-1 for both, while for microcrystalline cellulose, 0.04 UEA mL-1 min-1 were observed. The highest carboxymethyl cellulase activity was observed at 60°C (0.14 UEA mL-1 min-1) for both crude and partially purified enzyme after 30 and 120 min of incubation, respectively. Alkalinization of the medium was observed during cultivation in all substrates. The cellulase had a molecular mass of 20 kDa determined by SDS-Page. Isolate 380 was identified as Bacillus licheniformis. This work provides a basis for further studies on composting optimization.