APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Lignocellulosic biofuel production
- High value chemical production
- Rapid, high throughput
- Simultaneously detects several enzyme activities
Lignin, a major component of lignocellulosic biomass, may be an important starting material for biomaterial or biofuel production. Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a rapid, high throughput screening method using nanostructure initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS) to find high performance enzymes such as ligninases and ligninases cocktails that break down lignin into simpler aromatics, adding value to the utilization of lignocellulosic biomass.
The products were analyzed by NIMS, a surface based desorption ionization technique that is advantageous because only substrates and products will adhere to the surface, thus facilitating the analysis. Additionally, the assays fit with the high throughput platform, allowing many enzymes and enzyme combinations to be studied. This is the first time that all substrates, e.g., substrates for cellulases, hemicellulases and ligninases, can be combined together in a high throughput screening method to create assays that can simultaneously detect several enzyme activities.
This method is especially useful for capturing unknown or unexpected enzyme activities in cell cultures and environmental samples. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) are most commonly used for screening, but they are low throughput and occasional overlapping peaks make quantitation difficult.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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