The 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 newly discovered enzymes are simple and efficient partners to key enzymes that accelerate the 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 seafood-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.