The disclosure provides isolated nucleic acid molecules derived from the gut of the termite R flavipes, recombinant nucleic acid molecules comprising a vector and an isolated heterologous nucleic acid molecule operably inserted therein, whereby, when transformed into an appropriate host cell system, the heterologous nucleic acid sequence is expressed as a polypeptide having an activity similar to that when expressed in the gut of the termite R. flavipes. The recombinant nucleic acid molecules can comprise more than one heterologous nucleic acid molecule such that more than one polypeptide may be expressed by the host system. The expressed polypeptides may be substantially purified, or used in a substantially unpurified form, to be admixed with a lignocellulose source to be converted to a fermentable product such as a sugar or a mixture of sugars. One aspect of the present disclosure, therefore, encompasses methods of converting a lignified plant material to a fermentable product, the method comprising obtaining a series of isolated polypeptides of a termite, wherein the series of polypeptides cooperate to convert a plant lignocellulose to a fermentable product; and incubating the series of polypeptides with a source of lignified plant material, under conditions allowing the polypeptides to cooperatively produce a fermentable product from the lignified plant material.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with government support under Grant No. DE-FG36-02G012026 awarded by the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research/Department of Energy of the United States government DE-FG36-02G012026 awarded by the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research/Department of Energy of the United States government; CSREES-NRI 2007-35607-17777 awarded by the Department of Agriculture of the United States government; DE-FG02-08ER85063 awarded by the Department of Energy of the United States government; and 2009-05245 awarded by the Department of Agriculture of the United States government. The government has certain rights in the invention.