Recent advances in metagenomic analysis of different ecological niches for enhanced biodegradation of recalcitrant lignocellulosic biomass
Lignocellulose wastes stemming from agricultural residues can offer an excellent opportunity as alternative energy solutions in addition to fossil fuels. Besides, the unrestrained burning of agricultural residues can lead to the destruction of the soil microflora and associated soil sterilization. However, the difficulties associated with the biodegradation of lignocellulose biomasses remain as a formidable challenge for their sustainable management. In this respect, metagenomics can be used as an effective option to resolve such dilemma because of its potential as the next generation sequencing technology and bioinformatics tools to harness novel microbial consortia from diverse environments (e.g., soil, alpine forests, and hypersaline/acidic/hot sulfur springs). In light of the challenges associated with the bulk-scale biodegradation of lignocellulose-rich agricultural residues, this review is organized to help delineate the fundamental aspects of metagenomics towards the assessment of the microbial consortia and novel molecules (such as biocatalysts) which are otherwise unidentifiable by conventional laboratory culturing techniques. The discussion is extended further to highlight the recent advancements (e.g., from 2011 to 2022) in metagenomic approaches for the isolation and purification of lignocellulolytic microbes from different ecosystems along with the technical challenges and prospects associated with their wide implementation and scale-up. This review should thus be one of the first comprehensive reports on the metagenomics-based analysis of different environmental samples for the isolation and purification of lignocellulose degrading enzymes.