AbstractThe symbiosis of co-culturing between Clostridium thermocellum NKP-2 and Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum NOI-1 is described. An efficient biomass-degrading enriched culture was isolated from soil that contained two different bacterial strains showing homology to C. thermocellum and T. thermosaccharolyticum. The enzymatic system produced from the isolated strains when cultivated individually on corn hulls demonstrated different cellulolytic and xylanolytic enzyme activities. Strain NKP-2 produced cellulose- and xylan-main chain cleaving enzymes such as carboxymethylcellulase (CMCase), avicelase, and xylanase as major enzymes, whereas strain NOI-1 produced primarily short- and side-chain cleaving enzymes such as cellobiohydrolase, β-glucosidase, β-xylosidase, acetyl esterase, and especially α-L-arabinofuranosidase. Enhancement of corn hull utilization, cell growth, and fermentation products (ethanol, butanol, acetic acid, butyric acid, H2, and CO2) was greatly increased during co-culturing compared with individual cultivation of both strains. The symbiotic behavior between both strains was one of mutualism, in which the synergistic degradation of corn hulls by co-action of cellulolytic and xylanolytic enzymes promoted hydrolysis of biomass for growth and fermented products.