Addressing the Recalcitrance of Cellulose Degradation Through Cellulose Discovery, Nano-scale Elucidation of Molecular Mechanisms, and Kinetic Modeling. Final Technical Report




This research project was designed to play a vital role in the development of low cost sugars from cellulosic biomass and contributing to the national effort to displace fossil fuel usage in the USA transportation sector. The goal was to expand the portfolio of cell wall degrading enzymes through innovative research at the nano-scale level, prospecting for novel cellulases and building a kinetic framework for the development of more effective enzymatic conversion processes. More precisely, the goal was to elucidate the molecular mechanisms for some cellulases that are very familiar to members of our research team and to investigate what we hope are novel cellulases or new enzyme combinations from the world of plant pathogenic fungi and bacteria. Hydrolytic activities of various cellulases and cellulase cocktails were monitored at the nanoscale of cellulose fibrils and the microscale of pretreated cellulose particles, and we integrated this insight into a heterogeneous reaction framework. The over-riding approach for this research program was the application of innovative and cutting edge optical and high-throughput screening and analysis techniques for observing how cellulases hydrolyze real substrates.



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