Navigation Links
First wood-digesting enzyme found in bacteria could boost biofuel production
Date:6/9/2011

Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-led Integrated Biorefining Research and Technology (IBTI) Club have identified an enzyme in bacteria which could be used to make biofuel production more efficient. The research is published in the 14 June Issue of the American Chemical Society journal Biochemistry.

This research, carried out by teams at the Universities of Warwick and British Columbia, could make sustainable sources of biofuels, such as woody plants and the inedible parts of crops, more economically viable.

The researchers, who were also supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, have discovered an enzyme which is important in breaking down lignin, one of the components of the woody parts of plants. Lignin is important in making plants sturdy and rigid but, because it is difficult to break down, it makes extracting the energy-rich sugars used to produce bioethanol more difficult. Fast-growing woody plants and the inedible by-products of crops could both be valuable sources of biofuels but it is difficult to extract enough sugar from them for the process to be economically viable. Using an enzyme to break down lignin would allow more fuel to be produced from the same amount of plant mass.

The researchers identified the gene for breaking down lignin in a soil-living bacterium called Rhodococcus jostii. Although such enzymes have been found before in fungi, this is the first time that they have been identified in bacteria. The bacterium's genome has already been sequenced which means that it could be modified more easily to produce large amounts of the required enzyme. In addition, bacteria are quick and easy to grow, so this research raises the prospect of producing enzymes which can break down lignin on an industrial scale.

Professor Timothy Bugg, from the University of Warwick, who led the team, said "For biofuels to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels we need to extract the maximum possible energy available from plants. By raising the exciting possibility of being able to produce lignin-degrading enzymes from bacteria on an industrial scale this research could help unlock currently unattainable sources of biofuels.

"By making woody plants and the inedible by-products of crops economically viable the eventual hope is to be able to produce biofuels that don't compete with food production."

The team at Warwick have been collaborating with colleagues in Canada at the University of British Columbia who have been working to unravel the structure of the enzyme. They hope next to find similar enzymes in bacteria which live in very hot environments such as near volcanic vents. Enzymes in these bacteria have evolved to work best at high temperatures meaning they are ideally suited to be used in industrial processes.

Duncan Eggar, BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Champion, said: "Burning wood has long been a significant source of energy. Using modern bioscience we can use woody plants in more sophisticated ways to fuel our vehicles and to produce materials and industrial chemicals. This must all be done both ethically and sustainably. Work like this which develops conversion processes and improves efficiencies is vital."


'/>"/>

Contact: Mike Davies
mike.davies@bbsrc.ac.uk
01-793-414-694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. First-of-its-kind fluorescence map offers a new view of the worlds land plants
2. Biochemist David Deamer explores how life began in new book, First Life
3. Registration opens for first Middle East and Africa osteoporosis meeting
4. Cancer drug holds promise as first treatment for common, inherited dementia
5. Harvard scientists see the early cellular cause of dry eye disease for the first time
6. Experts create first legal roadmap to tackle local ocean acidification hotspots
7. West coasts log, lumber exports increase in first quarter of 2011
8. First Washington green chemistry conference aims to plan for toxics
9. First analysis of invasive plant impacts worldwide
10. Forest Service unveils first comprehensive forecast on southern forests
11. Social network helps in discovery of a species of plant lice for the first time in Europe
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/16/2017)... FRANCISCO , Feb. 16, 2017  Genos, ... today announced that it has received Laboratory Accreditation ... CAP Accreditation is presented to laboratories that meet ... who demonstrate scientifically rigorous processes. "Genos ... excellence in laboratory practices. We,re honored to be ...
(Date:2/10/2017)... , Feb 10, 2017 ... new report "Personalized Medicine - Scientific and Commercial Aspects" ... ... personalized medicine. Diagnosis is integrated with therapy for selection of ... on early detection and prevention of disease in modern medicine. ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 7, 2017 Report ... ... and should reach $11.4 billion by 2021, growing at a ... Report Includes - An overview of the global markets for ... from 2015, estimates for 2016, and projections of compound annual ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017   iSpecimen ®, ... announced that Doctors Pathology Service (DPS), a ... of the United States , has ... Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) to make human ... The novel program, announced in 2015 as ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Pa. , March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... global independent provider of product and service ... today that it has acquired EPL Archives, ... supports customers across the entire regulated product ... archive sample, document storage and ancillary services. ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... San Diego, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... March 21, ... ... Frame on Kickstarter , more than tripling its goal and raising over ... and low-maintenance vertical garden that grows nutritious veggies & herbs fast, easy, and ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... 22, 2017 , ... March 22, 2017...Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, ... utilizes technological innovation in smart, sustainable ways. Humans depend on plants for food, feed, ... environmental stability. This paper is the first in a series that connects science and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: