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Title: Analysis of the gut microbiome of the common black slug Arion ater : in search of novel lignocellulose degrading enzymes
Author: Joynson, R. E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 7829
Awarding Body: University of Salford
Current Institution: University of Salford
Date of Award: 2015
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Some eukaryotes are able to gain access to otherwise well-protected carbon sources in plant biomass by exploiting microorganisms in the environment, or harboured in their digestive system. One such organism is the European black slug, Arion ater, which takes advantage of a gut microbial consortium that can break down plant tissues, including the widely available, but difficult to digest, carbohydrate polymers in lignocellulose. This ability is considered to be one of the major factors that have enabled A. ater to become one of the most widespread plant pest species in Western Europe and North America. Here we have identified the A. ater gut environment as a target for metagenomic study through identification of cellulolytic activity of bacterial origin. Next generation sequencing technology was used to characterize the bacterial diversity and functional capability of the gut microbiome of this notorious agricultural pest. Over 6 Gbp of gut metagenomic community sequences were analysed to reveal populations of known lignocellulose-degrading bacteria, along with abundant well-characterized bacterial plant pathogens. This study also revealed a repertoire of more than 3,000 carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes), indicating a microbial consortium capable of degradation of all components of lignocellulose, including cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin. Together, these functions would allow A. ater to make extensive use of plant biomass as a source of nutrients. This thesis demonstrates the importance of studying microbial communities in understudied groups such as the gastropods, firstly with respect to understanding links between feeding and evolutionary success and, secondly, as sources of novel enzymes with biotechnological potential, such as CAZYmes that could be used in the production of biofuel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Salford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Energy