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More light shed on on biomass breakdown

Date:
January 23, 2015
Source:
University of York
Summary:
A recently discovered family of enzymes can degrade resistant forms of starch, researchers report. Starch is a polysaccharide that is highly prevalent in both food and plants. Determining the way it is broken down by an LPMO now offers potential for utilising this starch in new ways, potentially including the production of biofuels.
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Scientists at the University of York are part of a research team which has found that a recently discovered family of enzymes can degrade resistant forms of starch.

Earlier research established that the enzymes -- lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) -- are able to degrade hard-to-digest biomass into its constituent sugars.

But the enzymes -- which are secreted by both fungi and bacteria -- have now also been shown to have the ability to 'chip away' at other intractable materials such as resistant forms of starch.

Starch is a polysaccharide that is highly prevalent in both food and plants. Determining the way it is broken down by an LPMO now offers potential for utilising this starch in new ways, potentially including the production of biofuels.

An international team of researchers, led by Professor Paul Walton and Professor Gideon Davies of the Department of Chemistry at York, carried out the research which is published in Nature Communications.

The team -- which also included scientists from France (CNRS Marseille), Denmark (University of Copenhagen) and the UK (University of Cambridge) -- undertook a detailed investigation of a new class of LPMO enzymes use oxygen from the air to initiate a highly reactive oxidation process that allows a resistant form of starch to be broken down. The researchers used a range of analytical techniques to investigate the characteristics of the enzymes.

The continuing York research into LPMOs, which is led by Professor Walton and Professor Davies, 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 of this class of enzymes to degrade a normally resistant form of starch offers the potential to valorize this important material. Discovering the characteristics of these enzymes will help to extend the use of starch."


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Materials provided by University of York. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Leila Lo Leggio, Thomas J. Simmons, Jens-Christian N. Poulsen, Kristian E. H. Frandsen, Glyn R. Hemsworth, Mary A. Stringer, Pernille von Freiesleben, Morten Tovborg, Katja S. Johansen, Leonardo De Maria, Paul V. Harris, Chee-Leong Soong, Paul Dupree, Theodora Tryfona, Nicolas Lenfant, Bernard Henrissat, Gideon J. Davies, Paul H. Walton. Structure and boosting activity of a starch-degrading lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase. Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 5961 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6961

Cite This Page:

University of York. "More light shed on on biomass breakdown." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150123121713.htm>.
University of York. (2015, January 23). More light shed on on biomass breakdown. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150123121713.htm
University of York. "More light shed on on biomass breakdown." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150123121713.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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