Chapter One - The genus Geobacillus and their biotechnological potential

Ali H Hussein, Beata K Lisowska, David J Leak

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The genus Geobacillus comprises a group of Gram-positive thermophilic bacteria, including obligate aerobes, denitrifiers, and facultative anaerobes that can grow over a range of 45-75°C. Originally classified as group five Bacillus spp., strains of Bacillus stearothermophilus came to prominence as contaminants of canned food and soon became the organism of choice for comparative studies of metabolism and enzymology between mesophiles and thermophiles. More recently, their catabolic versatility, particularly in the degradation of hemicellulose and starch, and rapid growth rates have raised their profile as organisms with potential for second-generation (lignocellulosic) biorefineries for biofuel or chemical production. The continued development of genetic tools to facilitate both fundamental investigation and metabolic engineering is now helping to realize this potential, for both metabolite production and optimized catabolism. In addition, this catabolic versatility provides a range of useful thermostable enzymes for industrial application. A number of genome-sequencing projects have been completed or are underway allowing comparative studies. These reveal a significant amount of genome rearrangement within the genus, the presence of large genomic islands encompassing all the hemicellulose utilization genes and a genomic island incorporating a set of long chain alkane monooxygenase genes. With G+C contents of 45-55%, thermostability appears to derive in part from the ability to synthesize protamine and spermine, which can condense DNA and raise its Tm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-48
Number of pages48
JournalAdvances in Applied Microbiology
Early online date5 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Biocatalysis
  • Fermentation
  • Genomics
  • Geobacillus
  • Hemicellulase
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Phylogeny
  • Thermophile


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