Characteristics of rumen microorganisms involved in anaerobic degradation of cellulose at various pH values
Microbial degradation of straw, the main by-product of agricultural production, has proved to be the most economical and effective means of producing hydrogen. Mixed cultures provide stable combinations to process complex materials, thereby supporting more efficient decomposition and hydrogenation of biomass than pure bacterial species. Cellulose, the main component of straw, is degraded by microorganisms found in the rumen fluid of cows and converted to hydrogen gas, ethanol, and other fuels. This study investigated hydrogen production and microbial community structures during cellulose degradation by rumen microorganisms at pH values in the range of 5.5–7.5. The highest degradation efficiency was 81% at pH 6.5 with no methane and with the maximum hydrogen yield of 178.16 mL L−1 (culture medium) (8.42 mmol H2 g−1 Avicel). The yield value is higher than that associated with most mesophilic bacteria subjected to serial inoculation. The microbial diversity of rumen liquid enrichments at different pH values was analyzed using 454 pyrosequencing techniques. The dominant bacteria changed from Bacteroides, Enterococcus, and Enterobacter to Oscillibacter. This study thus examined the effect of pH on the efficiency of cellulose utilization in rumen bacteria growth. The results provide information about the mechanisms of metabolization at different pH values in diverse microflora.