The xylanase gene from the ruminal bacterium Bacteroides ruminicola 23 is highly expressed in colonic Bacteroides species when carried on plasmid pVAL-RX. In order to stabilize xylanase expression in the absence of antibiotic selection, the xylanase gene was introduced into the chromosome of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron 5482 by using suicide vector pVAL-7. Xylanase activity in the resulting strain, B. thetaiotaomicron BTX, was about 30% of that observed in B. thetaiotaomicron 5482 containing the xylanase gene on pVAL-RX. The data obtained from continuous culture experiments using antibiotic-free medium showed that expression of xylanase activity in strain BTX was extremely stable, with no demonstrated loss of the inserted xylanase gene over 60 generations, with dilution rates from 0.42 to 0.03 h-1. In contrast, the plasmid-borne xylanase gene was almost completely lost by 60 generations in the absence of antibiotic selection. Incubation of strain BTX with oatspelt xylan resulted in the degradation of more than 40% of the xylan to soluble xylooligomers. The stability of xylanase expression in B. thetaiotaomicron BTX suggests that this microorganism might be suitable for introduction into the rumen and increased xylan degradation
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