Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New insights into biomass breakdown provided by scientists

Date:
June 6, 2014
Source:
University of York
Summary:
How a recently discovered family of enzymes can degrade hard-to-digest biomass into its constituent sugars has been the focus of new study. The enzymes -- lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) -- are secreted by both fungi and bacteria and have the ability to 'chip away' at cellulose and other intractable materials. This allows cellulosic materials such as plant stems, wood chips and cardboard waste, as well as other tricky polysaccharides such as insect/crustacean shells, to be broken down.

Scientists at the University of York are playing a key role in the quest for a better understanding of how a recently discovered family of enzymes can degrade hard-to-digest biomass into its constituent sugars.

The enzymes -- lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) -- are secreted by both fungi and bacteria and have the ability to 'chip away' at cellulose and other intractable materials. This allows cellulosic materials such as plant stems, wood chips and cardboard waste, as well as other tricky polysaccharides such as insect/crustacean shells, to be broken down.

Finding a way of breaking down cellulosic materials into their constituent sugars to allow them to be fermented through to bioethanol is a key aim for second-generation biofuel development.

In a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an international team of researchers, including Professor Paul Walton and Professor Gideon Davies from York, provided important new information on how LPMOs work.

The team -- which included scientists from the United States, Denmark and the UK -- carried out a detailed investigation of how the enzymes use oxygen from the air to create a very reactive entity. This oxygen species then chips away at cellulose, allowing the difficult-to-degrade biomass to be broken down.

The on-going York research into LPMOs, which is led by Professor Walton and Professor Davies from the Department of Chemistry, is part of Critical Enzymes for Sustainable Biofuels from Cellulose (CESBIC), a collaborative project funded by the European Research Area Industrial Biotechnology network (ERA-IB).

Professor Walton said: "The ability to ferment cellulose is important as it opens up new possibilities in the production of bioethanol from sustainable sources. Through our collaborative research we are starting to uncover exactly the details of how LPMOs work."

The recent research published in the PNAS article, builds on work reported earlier this year in Nature Chemical Biology, which was led by York, and involved Professor Bernard Henrissat, of CNRS, Aix-Marseille Universitι, Marseille, France. The Nature Chemical Biology article reported on the discovery of an important new family of LPMO able to break down hard-to-digest biomass. This work is funded by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Professor Davies said: "To begin fermenting materials such as wood chips or plant stems, there needs to be a way of breaking into it. The action of an LPMO makes a scratch on the biomass surface which provides an entry point for other enzymes. Understanding how LPMOs work will aid the quest for second generation biofuel production."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. C. H. Kjaergaard, M. F. Qayyum, S. D. Wong, F. Xu, G. R. Hemsworth, D. J. Walton, N. A. Young, G. J. Davies, P. H. Walton, K. S. Johansen, K. O. Hodgson, B. Hedman, E. I. Solomon. Spectroscopic and computational insight into the activation of O2 by the mononuclear Cu center in polysaccharide monooxygenases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1408115111
  2. Glyn R Hemsworth, Bernard Henrissat, Gideon J Davies, Paul H Walton. Discovery and characterization of a new family of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases. Nature Chemical Biology, 2013; 10 (2): 122 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1417

Cite This Page:

University of York. "New insights into biomass breakdown provided by scientists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140606091533.htm>.
University of York. (2014, June 6). New insights into biomass breakdown provided by scientists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140606091533.htm
University of York. "New insights into biomass breakdown provided by scientists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140606091533.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) — It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) — A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins