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Carbohydrate-active enzymes from pigmented Bacilli: a genomic approach to assess carbohydrate utilization and degradation

Nicola Manzo1, Enrica D'Apuzzo1, Pedro M Coutinho2, Simon M Cutting3, Bernard Henrissat2 and Ezio Ricca1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Structural and Functional Biology, Federico II University of Naples, MSA, via Cinthia 4, 80126 Napoli, Italy

2 Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques, UMR6098, CNRS and Universités d'Aix-Marseille I & II, Case 932, 163 Av de Luminy, 13288 Marseille cedex 9, France

3 School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:198  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-198

Published: 5 September 2011



Spore-forming Bacilli are Gram-positive bacteria commonly found in a variety of natural habitats, including soil, water and the gastro-intestinal (GI)-tract of animals. Isolates of various Bacillus species produce pigments, mostly carotenoids, with a putative protective role against UV irradiation and oxygen-reactive forms.


We report the annotation of

ctive en
mes (CAZymes) of two pigmented Bacilli isolated from the human GI-tract and belonging to the Bacillus indicus and B. firmus species. A high number of glycoside hydrolases (GHs) and carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) were found in both isolates. A detailed analysis of CAZyme families, was performed and supported by growth data. Carbohydrates able to support growth as the sole carbon source negatively effected carotenoid formation in rich medium, suggesting that a catabolite repression-like mechanism controls carotenoid biosynthesis in both Bacilli. Experimental results on biofilm formation confirmed genomic data on the potentials of B. indicus HU36 to produce a levan-based biofilm, while mucin-binding and -degradation experiments supported genomic data suggesting the ability of both Bacilli to degrade mammalian glycans.


CAZy analyses of the genomes of the two pigmented Bacilli, compared to other Bacillus species and validated by experimental data on carbohydrate utilization, biofilm formation and mucin degradation, suggests that the two pigmented Bacilli are adapted to the intestinal environment and are suited to grow in and colonize the human gut.