New insights into using lignocellulose degradation mechanisms for biofuel generation gained by sharing expertise in wood-degrading animals and fungi

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Sch of Biological Sciences

Abstract

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Description * A novel approach to detecting reductions in crystallinity of cellulose during the digestion process. Such reductions reduce the recalcitrance of cellulose to break down by enzymes and so are relevant to production of biofuels from wood feedstocks.
*A network of expertise covering the range across the Tree of Life of breakdown mechanisms employed in the release of sugars from woody materials.
Exploitation Route The review article we have published has provided an authoritative perspective over the diversity of breakdown mechanisms which is frequently cited. The novelty of this review is that it bring current understanding of all the mechanisms together in a single overview, with new insights generated by comparison of mechanisms. The interest in combining mechanisms from widely different organisms in a single chimeric protein has already lead to a promising new line of enquiry and initial results.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Transport

 
Description A multi-author review encapsulating the findings reported in the end-of-project workshop was published in Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
 
Description EN275 Working Group
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Working group EN275 is undertaking the updating of the European Norm for testing wood products for use in the marine environment. The involvement of SC in the meetings of this working group have lead to plans to adopt a laboratory testing method founded on the insights into marine borer digestion developed through BBSRC-funded projects on lignocellulose degradation.
 
Description Research Council of Norway
Amount £250,000 (GBP)
Organisation Research Council of Norway 
Sector Public
Country Norway
Start 07/2017 
End 07/2020
 
Description strategic LoLa
Amount £568,462 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/L001926/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2019
 
Description Borer and fungal enzymes 
Organisation Virginia Tech
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Generated experimental materials Provided X-ray diffractograms of materials Contribution to end of project workshop Synthesising workshop contributions for review manuscript Synthesized outline proposal for ffollow up project
Collaborator Contribution Developed a methodology for interpreting diffractograms of digested material Contribution to end of project workshop Plans and ideas for follow up project
Impact Multidisciplinary: mycology, zoology, structural biology, wood science Workshop at Linnean Society Outline project proposal to NSF/BIO BBSRC Pilot Conference presentation Manuscript published 2015
Start Year 2012
 
Description Enzyme structures 
Organisation Novozymes
Country Denmark 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Crystallized proteins generated by Novozymes and solved structures.
Collaborator Contribution Supplied large quantities of proteins of interest, including ones falling outside the BBSRC project range, though relevant to the project objectives.
Impact Protein structures have been generated which help us with interpretation of the function of similar proteins generated by our experimental organisms.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Hemicellulose degradation 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to planning of shared programme.
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to planning of shared programme.
Impact Collaboration is at an early stage. Manuscript published in 2015
Start Year 2014
 
Description Kebony 
Organisation Kebony AS
Country Norway 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Rapid evaluation by novel laboratory and field protocols of wood borer protection capacity of novel wood modification processes
Collaborator Contribution Development and assessment of of novel wood modification processes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Kebony 
Organisation Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Department Department of Chemical Engineering
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Rapid evaluation by novel laboratory and field protocols of wood borer protection capacity of novel wood modification processes
Collaborator Contribution Development and assessment of of novel wood modification processes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Kebony 
Organisation SP Technical Institute of Sweden
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Rapid evaluation by novel laboratory and field protocols of wood borer protection capacity of novel wood modification processes
Collaborator Contribution Development and assessment of of novel wood modification processes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Kebony 
Organisation Statistics Norway
Country Norway 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Rapid evaluation by novel laboratory and field protocols of wood borer protection capacity of novel wood modification processes
Collaborator Contribution Development and assessment of of novel wood modification processes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Kebony 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Rapid evaluation by novel laboratory and field protocols of wood borer protection capacity of novel wood modification processes
Collaborator Contribution Development and assessment of of novel wood modification processes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description NREL Biofuels 
Organisation U.S. Department of Energy
Department National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of high quality DNA samples for genomic analysis Prediction of enzyme structures Solving of enzyme structures Crystallizing of proteins
Collaborator Contribution Liaison with U Colorado over genome sequencing Substantial intellectual input into publication Technical assistance regarding protein expression
Impact Multidisciplinary: digestion physiology, gene expression, protein synthesis, structural biology
Start Year 2011
 
Description Shipworm enzymes 
Organisation Northeastern University - Boston
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Identification of endogenous lignocellulose active enzymes in the shipworm Organisation of the workshop on lignocellulose degradation mechanisms at the Linnean Society. Contribution to a manuscript on shipworm taxonomy
Collaborator Contribution Characterisation of the proteome of the digestive tract of the shipworm Contribution to workshop at Linnean Society.
Impact Development of a joint proposal for funding under the NSF/BIO - BBSRC Pilot. Recruitment of a PhD student from Portsmouth to a postdoctoral position at Northeastern University. Manuscript submitted on shipworm taxonomy in 2016.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Entomology conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation to show similarities and differences of crustacean wood digestion mechanisms compared with insect mechanisms
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://ice2016orlando.org/
 
Description European Conference on Tropical Ecology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation on the role of marine borers and their wood digestion capabilities in the functioning of mangrove ecosystems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.iyor2018.org/event/2018-european-conference-of-tropical-ecology-challenges-in-tropical-e...
 
Description Janelia Conference: Crustacean Models in Cross-Disciplinary Biological Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A gathering of expertise from around the globe to debate under non-disclosure conditions research on genomics of crustaceans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Marine Evolution 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Marine Evolution 2018 brought together speakers from across the globe to a meeting with the Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology. SC presented work on the diversity of digestive enzymes in marine wood-boring crustaceans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://cemeb.science.gu.se/activities/marine-evolution-2018
 
Description Workshop on lignocellulose degradation mechanisms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentations from experts that covered the range of biodegradation mechanisms across the Tree of Life stimulated new lines of thinking by the mainly US and UK participants.

The workshop stimulated agreements to collaborate (e.g. with Northeastern University), opened up an opportunity for employment (PhD student from Portsmouth recruited to Northeastern University) and prompted agreement to publish a distillation of the presentations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013