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Specificities of key enzymes in plant biomass conversion

Carlsbergfondets internationaliseringsstipendier

What

Specificities of key enzymes (AA9 LPMOs) in plant biomass conversion. This project is about the sequence-structure-specificity relationships of AA9 LPMOs and aims at identifying determinants of specificity. The focus will be on correlating conserved sequence patterns to certain enzyme activities and specificities and then compare them to the correlation of fungal AA9 expression profiles and biomass composition. This will provide clues on the multiplicity and diversity of AA9 genes in the genomes of filamentous fungi.

Why

The production of bioethanol from non-edible plant biomass by enzymatic degradation may be a promising way of obtaining non-fossil based sustainable fuel and in that respect, the finding of Lytic Polysaccharide MonoOxygenases (LPMOs) have been a tremendous turning point in the understanding of enzymatic degradation of biomass. These key LPMO enzymes, which are present in a vast number of fungal species, function synergistically with hydrolytic enzymes traditionally used for bioethanol production and have led to significantly increased yields. Thus LPMOs are anticipated to make bioethanol economically prosperous.

How

From bioinformatic analysis AA9 LPMO enzymes with special features and abilities will be predicted. These selected AA9 LPMO are heterologously produced in Pichia pastoris. Biochemically characterisation of the enzymes using different assays and methods such as HPAEC-PAD (High Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric Detection) will be performed to confirm these predictions in order to identify general determinants of specificity and to elucidate AA9 LPMO function.

SSR

Understanding the LPMOs mode of action may lead to a more optimal production of bioethanol from non-edible plant biomass, which may be a promising way of obtaining non-fossil based sustainable fuel, thus being beneficial in a global environmental scope.