Enzyme activity of cellulases produced by Moniliophtora perniciosa, the causing factor of “witch–broom” in cacao plants

Carlos Eduardo Sampaio Guedes, Rita Cajazeira Alvarez, Eduardo Aquino Ximenes, Luís César Paulillo, Suzana Telles Cunha Lima, Luciana Veiga Barbosa


Abstract : Cellulases are applied in food and textile industry, in the production of alcoholic beverages, bioconversion of agronomic residues and, increasingly, for production of biofuels. The fungi of cacao plants are very resistant and difficult to combat. On the other hand, enzymes produced by them have numerous biotechnological applications. The present work aimed to evaluate isolates of Moniliophtora perniciosa representatives from the Reconcavo region of Bahia, in Brazil,  regarding the production of cellulases. Thirty two  M. perniciosa strains were evaluated while growing in the presence of cellulose as the only carbon source. They were initially screened using the Congo red assay, following halo formation, after growth in solid medium containing one of the substrates mentioned before. Of the tested strains, 948F showed the greatest potential for the hydrolysis of non-crystalline cellulose. This strain was further tested for its ability to produce cellulases in minimal liquid medium in the presence of carboximetil cellulose (CMC) as the only carbon source. The maximal growth range was between 168 and 192 h. The highest activity values were observed between 240 and 246 h, maximum value being 10.5 U/mL x    10-3. The zymogram analysis showed the presence of three bands with endoglucanase activity. Although the results obtained are preliminary, they may open the way for future investigations of this strain aiming optimization of conditions for production of cellulases and other hydrolytic enzymes with potential biotechnological applications.

 Key words: Theobroma cacao, Endoglucanases, Hydrolytic enzymes.

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