Termites have specialized digestive systems that overcome the lignin barrier in wood to release fermentable simple sugars. Using the termite Reticulitermes flavipes and its gut symbionts, high-throughput titanium pyrosequencing and proteomics approaches experimentally compared the effects of lignin-containing diets on host-symbiont digestome composition. Proteomic investigations and functional digestive studies with recombinant lignocellulases conducted in parallel provided strong evidence of congruence at the transcription and translational levels and provide enzymatic strategies for overcoming recalcitrant lignin barriers in biofuel feedstocks. Briefly described, therefore, the disclosure provides a system for generating a fermentable product from a lignified plant material, the system comprising a cooperating series of at least two catalytically active polypeptides, where said catalytically active polypeptides are selected from the group consisting of: cellulase Cell-1, .beta.-glu cellulase, an aldo-keto-reductase, a catalase, a laccase, and an endo-xylanase.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Grant No. DE-FC03-97ER62402, awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.