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Genomic potential for polysaccharide deconstruction in bacteria.


Glycoside hydrolases are important enzymes that support bacterial growth by enabling the degradation of polysaccharides (e.g., starch, cellulose, xylan, and chitin) in the environment. Presently, little is known about the overall phylogenetic distribution of the genomic potential to degrade these polysaccharides in bacteria. However, knowing the phylogenetic breadth of these traits may help us predict the overall polysaccharide processing in environmental microbial communities. In order to address this, we identified and analyzed the distribution of 392,166 enzyme genes derived from 53 glycoside hydrolase families in 8,133 sequenced bacterial genomes. Enzymes for oligosaccharides and starch/glycogen were observed in most taxonomic groups, whereas glycoside hydrolases for structural polymers (i.e., cellulose, xylan, and chitin) were observed in clusters of relatives at taxonomic levels ranging from species to genus as determined by consenTRAIT. The potential for starch and glycogen processing, as well as oligosaccharide processing, was observed in 85% of the strains, whereas 65% possessed enzymes to degrade some structural polysaccharides (i.e., cellulose, xylan, or chitin). Potential degraders targeting one, two, and three structural polysaccharides accounted for 22.6, 32.9, and 9.3% of genomes analyzed, respectively. Finally, potential degraders targeting multiple structural polysaccharides displayed increased potential for oligosaccharide deconstruction. This study provides a framework for linking the potential for polymer deconstruction with phylogeny in complex microbial assemblages.

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