A group of researchers at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), working in partnership with colleagues at the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory (LNBR) in Campinas, São Paulo State, Brazil, have discovered that Trichoderma harzianum, a fungus found in the Amazon, produces an enzyme with the potential to play a key role in enzyme cocktails.
The enzyme, which is called ß-glucosidase and belongs to glycoside hydrolase family 1 (GH1), acts in the last stage of biomass degradation to produce free glucose for fermentation and conversion into ethanol. In the laboratory, however, the researchers observed that high levels of glucose inhibited the activity of ß-glucosidase.
“We also found that the enzyme’s optimal catalytic activity occurred at 40 °C. This represented another obstacle to use of the enzyme because in an industrial setting, the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass is performed at higher temperatures, typically around 50 °C,” said Clelton Aparecido dos Santos, a postdoctoral researcher at UNICAMP’s Center for Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering (CBMEG) with a scholarship from FAPESP.
Based on an analysis of the enzyme’s structure combined with genomics and molecular biology techniques, the researchers were able to modify the structure to solve these problems and considerably enhance its biomass degradation efficiency. READ MORE
An engineered GH1 ß-glucosidase displays enhanced glucose tolerance and increased sugar release from lignocellulosic materials (Scientific Reports)