Bio plant Studstrup. Photo: Colourbox

New enzymes to improve the efficiency of biomass breakdown

Friday 09 Apr 21

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Maher Abou Hachem
Professor MSO
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 27 32
A new class of enzymes show great potential for streamlining the decomposition of biomass for further conversion into energy and bio-products.

Transformation of biomass to fuel and value-added products is crucial for the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy. Researchers from DTU and the French Institute for Research in Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) in Marseille, have discovered a new class of enzymes, AA7 dehydrogenases, and demonstrated the potential of these enzymes as efficient members of enzyme blends for the degradation of cellulose, the most abundant and renewable resource from woody biomass and agricultural waste.

"The results can be used to develop biocatalysts in industrial production and thus create more value out of biomass from wood, agricultural production, fisheries and the food industry."
Maher Abou Hachem

“The newly discovered enzymes are simple and efficient partners to key enzymes that accelerate breakdown of the toughest regions in biomass. Thus, they have great potential in commercial enzyme cocktails for biomass conversion to value-added products. We will investigate the molecular features and interactions of the new enzymes to explain their advantages and how we can further improve their efficiency in biomass breakdown. We will also look for new activities to target other biomass feedstocks, e.g. chitin from crustacean sea food-based waste,” says Maher Abou Hachem, Professor MSO at DTU Bioengineering.

The discovery of AA7 enzymes has been published in the acclaimed journal Nature Communications. Here, the researchers demonstrate that blends of the newly discovered enzyme with previously known enzymes are efficient in targeting crystalline biomass regions that constitute a bottleneck of biotechnological processes for biomass exploitation.

Maher Abou Hachem expects that the results can be used to develop biocatalysts in industrial production and thus create more value out of biomass from wood, agricultural production, fisheries and the food industry. The main advantage of the new enzymes is that they can potentially improve the economic feasibility of biotechnological processes to valorize biomass.

Enzymes accelerate breakdown

Biomass polysaccharides such as cellulose, chitin and starch are primary raw materials in the biotechnological production of e.g. biofuels, prebiotics, and bioplastics to replace products of fossil origin. In a new research project, researchers from DTU and the French Institute for Research in Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) in Marseille, demonstrate how a newly discovered enzyme activity, AA7 oligosaccharide dehydrogenases, has the potential to streamline the conversion of biomass.

The AA7 enzymes are naturally present in secreted enzyme cocktails that are produced by fungi to accelerate the breakdown and conversion of biomass for nutrients and building blocks in other biological processes.

Read more about the project “Discovery of fungal oligosaccharide-oxidizing flavo enzymes with previously unknown substrates, redox activity profiles and interplay with LPMOs”, published in Nature Communications.
https://www.food.dtu.dk/english/news/Nyhed?id=%7B1547603F-FA35-4C5F-AACB-EF5BCBA10DEA%7D
16 MAY 2021