Diversity of inulinase-producing fungi associated with two Asteraceous plants, Pulicaria crispa (Forssk.) and Pluchea dioscoridis (L.) growing in an extreme arid environment
Inulinases are potentially valuable enzymes catalyze the hydrolysis of plant’s inulin into high fructose syrups as sweetening ingredients for food industry and ethanol production. The high demands for inulinase enzymes have promoted interest in microbial inulinases as the most suitable approach for biosynthesis of fructose syrups from inulin. Arid land ecosystem represents a valuable bioresource for soil microbial diversity with unique biochemical and physiological properties. In the present study, we explored the fungi diversity associated with the rhizosphere and rhizoplane of two desert medicinal plants namely Pluchea dioscoridis and Pulicaria crispa growing in the South-Eastern desert of Aswan, Egypt. A total of 180 fungal isolates were screened based on their ability to grow on potato dextrose agar medium supplemented with 1% inulin. The isolated fungal colonies were morphologically identified according to cultural characteristics and spore-bearing structure. In addition, the inulinase activity of the isolated fungi was examined spectrophotometrically. Among these, Aspergillus terreus var. terreus 233, Botrytis cinerea, Aspergillus aegyptiacus, Cochliobolus australiensis 447 and Cochliobolus australiensis exhibited high inulinase activity ranging from 5.05 to 7.26 U/ml. This study provides a promising source of microbial inulinase, which can be scaled up for industrial applications.
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