Characterization of camel gut microbes

The camel is steeped the United Arab Emirates (UAE) history. In the past its people relied on camels for travel, for milk, and for sustenance. As such, the camel held both a social status and an economic status in the culture of the UAE people. Recently, there has been increased interest in the camel as a source of therapeutic compounds capable of combating cancer and providing immunotherapy (Alhaider, et al., 2011; Brekke & Løset, 2003; Smolarczyk et al., 2010). Recent concern with the use of fossil fuel based energy sources has led researchers to try to identify alternative sources of energy. Biomass is an available source of fuel capable of providing for energy needs, but it is difficult to convert into usable high value energy molecules (Kopetz, 2013).  This has led to increased interest in rumen microbes as a source of biological degraders of biomass (Wilson, 2011). For example, in South-East Asia developing countries cow manure are used as a source of methane to run the electricity for farms.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the process of producing energy from the organic materials such as animals manure; waste papers and sewage by cutting the oxygen to force rumen anaerobic bacteria to produce biogas (Bohn, Björnsson, & Mattiasson, 2007; Molino, et al., 2013). In India itself, there are more than 3 million small-scale biogas plants and in china 7 million. In addition, in the Europe Union, AD biomass could amount 1545 million tons per year (Wilkinson, 2011). Incorporation of municipal organic wastes such as food to the AD production helps to raise the amount of produced energy (Ashekuzzaman & Poulsen, 2011; Weiland, 2010).  Also, paper waste can be an additional source of enhanced biogas production (Yusuf & Ify, 2011)

Ruminants from animals have been a subject of interest by scientists and industries searching for a way to produce biomethane or biohydrogen using microorganisms from solid biomass (Alvarez & Lidén, 2009; Ashekuzzaman & Poulsen, 2011). Although there has been a study comparing the overall microbial communities in large ruminants, there is very little research done to understand the capacity of the camel rumen microbes to degrade biomass into usable energy compounds(Turnbull, et al., 2012; Wanderley, et al., 1999). Camels have evolved to be able to efficiently extract the nutrients from their scarce food source with a minimal use of water and under extreme environmental conditions (B. Schmidt-Nielsen, Schmidt-Nielsen, Houpt, & Jarnum, 1956; K. Schmidt-Nielsen, et al., 1956). We believe these qualities point to camel gut microbiota as having a great potential in biomass hydrolysis.

This project is aim and assessing the hydrolytic production capacity of camel rumen microorganisms as catalysts for hydrolysis and fermentation of difficult-to-degrade cellulosic biomass. The project will provide a comprehensive hydrolysis analysis from various biomass substrate sources based on relevance in order to evaluate the hydrolytic capacity of camel rumen microorganism to assist in the development of large scale fermentation production process.

1. Community analysis of microbial community in camel dung
The genomic DNA and RNA from fresh camel dung samples will be extracted, fractionated, sequenced using high throughput sequencing technologies, and analyzed for characterization of active microbial communities. The genomic information will allow for a database of members of microbial community. This database will allow for identification of potential metabolic pathways involved in substrate degradation, small molecule utilization, and environmental interactions.

2. Characterization of methane producing by microbial communities cultivated from camel dung
Camel dung microbial communities will studied by cultivation of different samples under known conditions designed to enrich for methane producing microbial communities. The methane producing biochemical metabolic pathways will be identified through metabolic modeling and isolation of chemical intermediates.

3. Isolation and characterization of methane producing bacteria
The isolation and cultivation of individual members of the methane producing consortia will be isolated and characterized. The isolates will be analyzed for methane production pathways by genomic DNA isolation and whole genome sequenced and assembled using high throughput sequencing technologies.


Alhaider, A. A., El Gendy, M. A. M., Korashy, H. M., & El-Kadi, A. O. S. (2011). Camel urine inhibits the cytochrome P450 1a1 gene expression through an AhR-dependent mechanism in Hepa 1c1c7 cell line. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(1), 184-190.

Alvarez, R., & Lidén, G. (2009). Low temperature anaerobic digestion of mixtures of llama, cow and sheep manure for improved methane production. Biomass and Bioenergy, 33(3), 527-533.

Ashekuzzaman, S. M., & Poulsen, T. G. (2011). Optimizing feed composition for improved methane yield during anaerobic digestion of cow manure based waste mixtures. Bioresource Technology, 102(3), 2213-2218.

Bohn, I., Björnsson, L., & Mattiasson, B. (2007). The energy balance in farm scale anaerobic digestion of crop residues at 11–37°C. Process Biochemistry, 42(1), 57-64.

Brekke, O. H., & Løset, G. (2003). New technologies in therapeutic antibody development. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 3(5), 544-550.

Kopetz, H. (2013). Renewable resources: Build a biomass energy market. Nature, 494(7435), 29-31.

Molino, A., Nanna, F., Ding, Y., Bikson, B., & Braccio, G. (2013). Biomethane production by anaerobic digestion of organic waste. Fuel, 103(0), 1003-1009.

Schmidt-Nielsen, B., Schmidt-Nielsen, K., Houpt, T. R., & Jarnum, S. A. (1956). Water Balance of the Camel. American Journal of Physiology — Legacy Content, 185(1), 185-194.

Schmidt-Nielsen, K., Schmidt-Nielsen, B., Jarnum, S. A., & Houpt, T. R. (1956). Body Temperature of the Camel and Its Relation to Water Economy. American Journal of Physiology — Legacy Content, 188(1), 103-112.

Smolarczyk, R., Cichon, T., Kamysz, W., Glowala-Kosinska, M., Szydlo, A., Szultka, L., . . . Szala, S. (2010). Anticancer effects of CAMEL peptide. Lab Invest, 90(6), 940-952.