Submitted to: United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2008
Publication Date: 8/25/2008
Citation: Lee, C.C., Wagschal, K.C., Wong, D. 2008. Gene discovery and engineering for biomass degradation. United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources. 2008. 50-51.
Technical Abstract: The eventual depletion of the world’s fossil fuel reserves has generated intense interest in alternatives. Lignocellulosic biomass represents a viable source for our future fuel and chemical feedstock needs. Hemicellulose is the second most common component of biomass. It is composed primarily of xylan, a polymer of xylose sugars. To fully utilize the potential of this substrate, it is important to reduce the polymer to simple sugars. Xylanase and beta-xylosidase enzymes hydrolyze the xylan polymer into xylose. However, the xylan backbone is often modified with various chemical side chains that inhibit hydrolysis of the polymer. These chemical side chains are removed by different accessory enzymes. The addition of these accessory enzymes to the xylanase reaction results in a synergistic increase in the levels of xylan hydrolysis. In our laboratory, we are working on assembling all the enzymes that are involved in hemicellulose degradation. In this presentation, I will discuss our approaches, strategies, and some of the examples of the enzymes we have discovered.