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Development of lignin active enzyme mixture to produce sugars from lignocellulosic biomass for production of fuels, chemicals and bio based materials


Production of fuels and chemicals from renewable lignocellulosic biomass is difficult due to its recalcitrance to deconstruction. This recalcitrance is mostly due to presence of lignin in plant cell walls. Lignin is disrupted and/or removed from plant cell walls through expensive physicochemical pretreatments that use harsh chemicals, high temperatures and high pressures. Lignin in lignocellulosic biomass is resistant to attack by most organisms; however, white rot fungi produce a number of enzymes that can degrade lignin. This project would combine the talents of two researchers, Dr. Mark Wilkins of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dr. Femando Segato of the University of Sao Paulo, to develop an enzyme cocktail that degrades lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose to produce sugars that can be fermented by microbes to produce fuels and chemicals. The cocktail would indude lignin-degrading enzymes from Myceliopthora thermophila that have been heterologously expressed by the Segato lab. Sugarcane bagasse and com stover would be pretreated using liquid, hot water pretreatment with various degrees of severity in Wilkins lab, and then this biomass would be hydrolyzed using various combinations of lignin- degrading enzymes and cellulase. A response surface design would be used to optimize the enzyme cocktail. Each PD will visit each other's institution twice. In the first year, the main lab experiments will be conducted and in the second year each PD will train the other PD in their area of specialization. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
Pesquisas buscam melhores formas de usar a biomassa 
Estudios apuntan a obtener mejores formas de utilización de la biomasa 
Studies seek better ways to use biomass