Alternative Feedstocks, Pretreatment/Biochemical
Small Business Information
8510A Corridor Road, Savage, MD, 20763
AbstractCellulose is a highly sustainable global resource with considerable relevance to bio-ethanol production. Lignocellulose is a naturally occurring complex of plant-derived materials that includes the hydrophilic sugar polymers cellulose and hemicellulose, and the hydrophobic organic polymer lignin. Although lignocellulose is one of the most abundant and widespread bioenergy feedstocks available on Earth, a major limitation is the inefficiency of industrial lignocellulose depolymerization processes. Additionally, there is concern that under some conditions toxic compounds can be released from lignin. It is logical that termites and their gut symbionts have evolved a diversity of specialized lignocellulase enzymes that synergistically cooperate in lignocellulose degradation and utilization. Similar lignin-modifying enzymes identified previously been shown to detoxify phenolic contaminants in industrial waste streams. Therefore, this project will identify and produce lignase proteins derived from a metagenomic analysis of the economically-important termite Reticulitermes flavipes. The approach will leverage well-established recombinant baculovirus technology to produce extremely high rates of expression of soluble and functional protein. Expression in a eukaryotic host ensures the likelihood for correct post-translational modification of target proteins likely to be cloned from R.. flavipes and other termites. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The technology should open the possibility for low-cost production of pilot and commercial quantities of eukaryotic proteins, which can be used in the production of bio-ethanol. The research will contribute to important Presidential directives to produce greater quantities of ethanol biofuel, at greater efficiency, in order to reduce US dependence on foreign oil.
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