Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Combining Strategies Speeds the Work of Enzymes

08.05.2013
NREL research finds synergy in two approaches to breaking down cell walls of biomass
Enzymes could break down cell walls faster – leading to less expensive biofuels for transportation – if two enzyme systems are brought together in an industrial setting, new research by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests.

A paper on the breakthrough, “Fungal Cellulases and Complexed Cellulosomal Enzymes Exhibit Synergistic Mechanisms in Cellulose Deconstruction,” appears in the current edition of Energy and Environmental Science. Co-authors include five scientists from NREL and one from the Weizmann Institute in Israel.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 has set a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuel a year in the United States by 2022, including 21 billion gallons coming from advanced biofuel production. One barrier to reaching that goal is the high cost of enzyme treatment, a crucial step in turning the biomass – poplar trees, switchgrass, corn stover, and the like – into liquid fuel.

Enzymes secreted by microorganisms naturally degrade the cell walls of plants, breaking them down so their sugars can be harvested. But plants have their own survival tricks, including mechanisms to make it harder for the enzymes to break down the cell walls. Those defenses boost the cost of producing biofuels, and have pushed researchers to try to find combinations of enzymes that can do the job faster.

NREL researchers found that two enzyme paradigms – free and complexed enzymes – use dramatically different mechanisms to degrade biomass at the nanometer scale. Further, they found that mixing the two systems enhances catalytic performance. The findings suggest that there may be an optimal strategy between the two mechanisms – one that Nature may already have worked out.

When the two enzyme systems are combined, the substrate changes in unexpected ways and that result suggests the two systems work with each other to deconstruct the cell walls more efficiently. Scientists can use this knowledge to engineer optimal enzyme formulations – fast, efficient, single-minded and hungry.

To outmaneuver the plant’s survival mechanisms, many microorganisms secrete synergistic cocktails of individual enzymes, with one or several catalytic domains per enzyme. Conversely, some bacteria synthesize large multi-enzyme complexes, called cellulosomes, which contain multiple catalytic units per complex.

While both systems use similar catalytic chemistries, the ways they degrade polysaccharides has been unclear.

NREL researchers found that the free enzymes are more active on pretreated biomass, while the cellulosomes are more active on purified cellulose. Using electron microscopes they found that free enzymes attack the plant cell wall surface by chipping and eroding, helped along by sharpening the thread-like cellulose fibers.

By contrast, the cellulosomes physically separate individual cellulose microfibrils from larger particles to enhance access to the cellulose surfaces. They assemble protein scaffolding to help get the job done.

NREL researchers observed that when the two enzyme systems are combined, the work improves dramatically, likely due to our combining enzymes that evolved naturally, and independently, to do the same job in different ways.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

David Glickson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nrel.gov

Further reports about: NREL cell walls electron microscope enzymes poplar tree strategies

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New contents: Neuronal Parkinson inclusions are different than expected
26.06.2019 | Universität Basel

nachricht An ion channel with a doorkeeper: The pH of calcium ions controls ion channel opening
25.06.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IDMT demonstrates its method for acoustic quality inspection at »Sensor+Test 2019« in Nürnberg

From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.

Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Shell increases versatility of nanowires

26.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

Hubble finds tiny 'electric soccer balls' in space, helps solve interstellar mystery

26.06.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New combination therapy established as safe and effective for prostate cancer

26.06.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>