Investigation of the Natural Hydrolysis System in Camel Rumen

  • Alya Altunaiji

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Waste presents a significant challenge for the UAE due to the increase in population as well as the quantities of waste generated. Studies in 2010 by the Centre of Waste Management Abu Dhabi, projected that the emirate makes between 250kgs of food waste per person per year at cost US$60 billion dollars annually [1]. This led to the generation large amounts of methane and sulphur dioxide being released into the atmosphere. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi is seeking for new renewable sources of energy to reduce uses of oil and natural gas and its issues such as pollutions. Converting the waste to bio-fuel could be the optimum solution. There are many countries in the world using organic waste to produce bio-ethanol, methane, hydrogen and other high value chemicals. They are using different types of bio-reactors to reach a goal of improved waste treatment such as enzymatic hydrolysis, fermenter and anaerobic digestion (AD). However, in all these reactors, the microorganisms play the major role to convert the sugars to bio-products. In enzymatic hydrolysis, the microorganisms' enzymes are used to degrade the polysugars. While in fermenter and anaerobic digestion microorganisms are used to convert the mono-sugars and volatile fatty acids to products such as bio-ethanol in yeast fermenter and methane and hydrogen in AD. These microorganisms are provided by rumen microbiota from ruminants such as cattle, goat and camel as these microorganisms secrete the enzymes to make the conversion happen. The camel is steeped the United Arab Emirates (UAE) history. In the past, people relied on camels for travel, milk, and sustenance. As such, the camel held both a social status and an economic status in the culture of the UAE people. Camel rumen contains microorganisms that are able to degrade the cellulosic biomass like other ruminants. Camel rumen microbiota can provide the microorganisms for cellulosic organic matter degradation and microorganisms for fermentation processes. This project assesses the capacity of camel rumen microorganism micro-factories form the hydrolysis and fermentation of difficult-to-degrade cellulosic biomass. It provides an initial analysis of the products from defined biomass substrates, offering an insight into the metabolic pathways available for hydrolysis of biomass, by camel rumen microorganism. These data will provide a basis for the development of large-scale fermentation production process. This project focused on investigated the natural hydrolysis system in camel gut microbiota. It studied their ability to degrade known carbon sources (glucose, xylose, arabinose, maltose, and hemicellulose) and date extract. The samples incubated in batch system in serum bottles with M9 minimum growth media anaerobically. The HPLC used to measure the VFAs from time zero up to 25 days. In addition, these initial data have provided the guiding principles for the design and construction of an artificial camel gut system. The goal of this system is to mimic, as best as possible, the various metabolic functions of the camel gut system in a controlled fashion. Results show the ability of camel gut system microbiota to degrade the different types of sugars. Each part of the camel gut system produces a different ratio of products. These diverse products are the result of many biochemical pathways, which point to the presence of a mixed culture of microorganism. The camel is fed on harsh and salty plants and its gut microbiota is able to digest and extract the nutrient from these plants. This led us to believe that the camel gut microbiota of highly efficient in degrading cellulosic matter under wide range of conditions such as pH and temperature. The results of this research will lead to the identification of microbial communities, to populate artificial anaerobic digesters, for processing difficult to degrade biomass substrates into high value compounds.
Date of AwardAug 2015
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorHector Hernandez (Supervisor)


  • Camel Rumen
  • Hydrolysis System
  • Camel Gut System
  • Microbiota.

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