Hydrolysis is usually considered to be a rate-limiting step in anaerobic digestion. For improving anaerobic solid waste treatments, it is essential to elucidate the mechanism of hydrolysis. In this study, alpha-amylase, one of the hydrolytic enzymes, was investigated for the elucidation of more precise mechanism of hydrolysis. Alpha-amylase activity of solid starch-degrading bacteria (SDB) was estimated through batch experiments with several different substrates and with distinction between cell-bound and cell-free alpha-amylase. Monitoring of newly isolated strains of SDB was done by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Results indicated that cell-bound alpha-amylase is chiefly responsible for the hydrolysis in the digested sludge, providing very useful information that the contact between microbial cells and solids is significantly important. The activity of alpha-amylase of the digested sludge remained quite low when not required, but increased as they recognized appropriate substrates. Several-fold higher activity was obtained for starch or maltose as compared to glucose only.

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