Current research activities include:
- Structure-function studies of biomass-converting enzymes and their accessory proteins and domains.
- Applied enzymology and bioprocessing for converting biomass to useful products.
- Biomass-degrading microbial communities; enzyme discovery.
- Gene expression systems, protein secretion and surface proteomics in lactic acid bacteria.
- Discovery and characterization of novel bacterial virulence factors.
- Development of nature-inspired novel catalysts
Current projects, led by PEP:
SFI-IB, Industrial biotechnology
SFI IB is a research-based innovation centre comprised of 4 leading national research organisations, 14 Industry partners and one industry cluster. Together, the partners have leading infrastructure platforms and competence on key areas of national interest within Industrial Biotechnology. By joining these capacities in one national centre, we will secure a stronger orchestration of Norwegian R&D&I within the main Innovation domains the centre will focus on. The SFI has five innovation domains and eight research domains. The work is divided into seven sub-projects. Four cross cutting activities span the centre activity. NMBU participates with two research groups at KBM, PEP and BioRef, and the BioSpec group at Realtek. NMBU's contribution is concentrated on the valorization of several types of biomass, through fermentation and / or enzyme technology. We work with the development of bioprocesses and with finding and developing useful enzymes that can be used in these processes. NMBU's biorefinery is important for our contribution. Two of SFI-IB's seven projects are led by NMBU by Vincent Eijsink & Svein Horn, Funded by NFR, Runs 2020-2028
FunAccess- Leveraging the Mechanisms by which Fungi Increase Plant Cell Wall Accessibility to Unlock the Industrial Valorization Potential of Plant Biomass
"In nature, penetration of the plant cell wall (PCW) is the important first step of plant colonization by fungi, irrespective of lifestyle. For that, fungi need to secrete small PCW-active proteins that can penetrate the pores of the PCW and reach key crosslinks that limit access to the PCW and its cellulose microfibrils in particular. These junction points also hinder biomass processability during enzymatic saccharification and cellulose fibrillation. In FunAccess, we will identify 1) small fungal proteins with predicted or unknown function that increase PCW accessibility and 2) crosslinks in PCWs that limit access to common PCW polysaccharides in native biomass and pulp samples. The ultimate goals are to describe the universal mechanisms fungi use to increase PCW accessibility, with focus on novel PCW-active protein systems, and to demonstrate the potential of these proteins for complete saccharification of biomass and production of nanocellulose beyond the state of the art". Aniko Varnai`s NNF Emerging Investigator Grant, Runs 2020-2025
ProDigio- Oxidative Polysaccharide Conversion in Anoxia by Denitrifying Organisms
"Falling leaves and branches along the shoreline of nitrogen-rich lakes create a niche habitat for denitrifying microbes capable of degrading cellulose. This very same sort of habitat can be found in field denitrification beds, which are cellulose-containing water treatment basins used by Danish farmers to clear the surface water from excess fertilization, in particular nitrate. Within these habitats, cellulose degradation and denitrification occurs, but the underlying microbial interactions and enzymes at work remain unknown. I believe these habitats hold an untapped potential for powerful new cellulose-degrading enzyme systems. In this project, I will reveal the microbes and enzymes at play using a repertoire of state-of-the-art microbial techniques and provide novel insight into cellulose deconstruction in nitrate-rich habitats. This will lay the foundation for innovative bioprocessing strategies with enzyme systems that can utilize nitrate instead of oxygen as co-substrat". Magnus Arntzen`s NNF Emerging Investigator Grant, Runs 2020-2025
SmartPlast - Solving the plastic problem
Project leader Vincent Eijsink. Plastic is derived from fossil fuels, is difficult to recycle (even in a society with effective waste collection systems), degrades slowly in nature (if at all), and has a tendency to convert to increasingly smaller particles (microplastics) that cause problems for living systems. Solving the “plastic problem” is a huge task that requires a wide multi-disciplinary action that a University such as NMBU alone cannot muster. Still, NMBU can contribute by building on recent developments in the field and in its own competence. Besides, NMBU already has ongoing activities that touch upon the plastic problem but that, so far, have remained invisible in a “plastic context”. Runs from 2021-2024. This project is a part of NMBUs Sustainability Arenas 2021- 2024.
Enzyclic - Unlocking the potential of enzymatic recycling of plastics
Project leader Gustav Vaaje-Kolstad. In this project we will develop new enzyme technology for degradation and recirculation. Unlocking the potential of enzymatic recycling of plastics. In parallel our partner Norner will develop new plastic polymers that are designed for enzymatic dergradation, but that maintain their functional properties. An important part of the project will be to establish an open dialogue with relevant industry, policy makers and other stakeholders to discuss the potential of the technology and how it can be implemented in society. This dialog will be supported by barrier and life cycle analyses performed by our partner Bellona. Additional project partners are the Circular Packaging Cluster and Aclima. Funded by NFR, Runs 2021-2025
“3D-omics” - Three-dimensional holo’omic landscapes to unveil host-microbiota interactions shaping animal production.
WP Leader Phillip Pope. In 3D’omics we will develop, optimise and, for the first time, implement this technology in animal production to generate the so-called 3D’omic landscapes, the most accurate reconstructions of intestinal host-microbiota ecosystems ever achieved. Funded by Horizon 2020. Runs 2021-2025
CUBE – “Unravelling the secrets of Cu-based catalysts for C-H activation”
In this ERC-Synergy project PEP will collaborate with experts in synthetic catalysts (zeolites, metal-organic-frameworks), spectroscopy, computational & theoretical chemistry and a wide variety of biophysical methods. The aim is to develop novel enzyme-inspired synthetic catalysts and novel synthetic catalyst-inspired enzymes. The catalytic power of LPMOs is a major inspiration for this work. Next to PEP, the team comprises groups headed by Prof Unni Olsbye (Oslo; project coordinator), Prof. Silvia Bordiga (Turin) and Prof. Serena DeBeer (Muelheim and der Ruhr). Read more here (scroll down on the page to “Cleaner chemical conversions”). Runs 2020-2026.
FunEnzFibres - “From fundamentals to valorization: Enzymatic oxidation of cellulosic fibres and underlying mechanisms”
Local project leader Aniko Varnai and Vincent Eijsink. In this ERA-Net project we will explore novel mechano-enzymatic modifications on cellulose and cellulosic fibres using LPMOs and selected hydrolases for development of high-value products in the forest industry. We will examine the possibilities of LPMOs to open, rearrange and modify structurally different celluloses in combination with existing knowledge in enzymatic fibre refining, and investigate functionalization of cellulosic fibres with new reactive chemical groups. Partners: VTT, Finland (Kaisa Marjamaa & Kristiina Kruus; project coordinator); BOKU Austria (Antje Potthast); Industrial partners;Borregaard, MetsäFibre, UPM-Kymmene Corporation, Essity GHC R&D Tissue, Acticell GmbH, and Novozymes.Runs 2019 – 2023
Delignobact - Degradation of Lignin by Bacteria
Young Research Talent grant from NFR to Tina Rise Tuveng, The project aims at identifying bacterial enzymes that are able to degrade lignin. Runs 2021-2025
SeaCow – “Promoting efficient, low emitting cows through manipulation of the rumen microbiome"
Young Research Talent grant from NFR to Live Heldal Hagen. In this project, Live will explore how seaweed-based nutritional manipulation strategies affect enteric methane production, microbiome-host interactions and microbiome metabolism. By decrypting relationships between diets, animal performance and microbiome metabolism, it should eventually become possible to improve animal performance and reduce methane emission by rational nutritional manipulation. Runs 2020 – 2024.
PRODIGIO - Developing early-warning systems for improved microalgae PROduction an anarobic DIGestIOn
Project leader: Magnus Øverlie Arntzen. PRODIGIO will boost the efficiency of solar energy conversion into biogas by increasing the performance of Microalgae production systems & Anaerobic digestion systems. Thanks to the development of early-warning signals for improved systems monitoring and control. Runs from 2021-2023
OXYMOD - "Optimized oxidative enzyme systems for efficient conversion of lignocellulose to valuable products”
Project leader Vincent Eijsink. In this project, which is part of the Center for Digital Life Norway funded by NFR-BIOTEK, we will use a transdisciplinary approach to study redox enzyme systems involved in biomass processing, with the eventual goal of developing better enzymes and enzyme systems and better bioprocessing strategies; read more here. Runs 2017-2022.
Current projects, led by others:
Svein Horn of the BioRef group is the deputy Center leader. A Norwegian Centre of excellence for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) aiming to develop viable technologies that are relevant for the sustainable commercial conversion of biomass feedstocks to biofuels and other products. PEP member Aniko Varnai leads one of the four Sub-projects called “Primary Biomass Conversion”. Runs 2016 – 2024.
Vincent Eijsink has been leading WP1, entitled Development of novel feeds and processing technology; this role will be taken over by Svein Horn (Bioref group) as of January 2020. A Norwegian Centre for Research-based Innovation aiming to increase value creation in the Norwegian aquaculture, meat and dairy industries by developing novel feed ingredients from natural bioresources and by improving feed utilization through industrial exploitation of cutting-edge research on bioprocessing and biotechnology, nutrition, health, genetics and food quality. . Runs 2015 – 2023.
Recently concluded larger projects:
Discovering new functions of carbohydrate-active enzymes to unravel novel mechanisms of bacterial virulence
Project leader Gustav Vaaje-Kolstad. Key research topic: unravelling the roles of chitinases and LPMOs in bacterial virulence, with focus on fish pathogens (Vibrio species), NFR-FRIBIOMED, (2016-2020)
Back to basics: simplifying microbial communities to decrypt complex interactions
Project leader Phil Pope. Key research topic: unravelling the basis of conversion of organic matter (biomass) by microbial consortia, using multi-omics tools; read more here. NFR-FRIBIOMED (2016-2020)
Enzymes4Fuels, Innovative enzyme technology for sustainable biofuels
Project leader Vincent Eijsink. Key research topic: Optimizing the enzymatic saccharification of woody biomass, with special focus on optimizing the contributions of LPMOs and hemicellulases and on the value of the remaining lignin fractions. NFR Energix (2017-2021)
OxyTrain – “Harnessing the power of enzymatic oxygen activation”
Project leader Morten Sørlie & Vincent Eijsink, Key research topic: understanding how LPMOs work; read more here. Look at the OXYtrain video;https://vimeo.com/371368460/091ecc72b9. Horizon 2020, Marie-Curie ITN, (2017-2021)
MARPOL- Enzymatic modification and upgrading of marine polysaccharides
Project leader Gudmund Skjåk-Bræk, NTNU (Vincent Eijsink was PI). NFR-BIOTEK2021 (2012-2017);
NorZymeD - Enzyme development for Norwegian biomass - mining Norwegian biodiversity for seizing Norwegian opportunities in the bio-based economy
Project leader Vincent Eijsink, NFR-BIOTEK2021, (2012-2018)
“BioFeed”- Novel salmon feed by integrated bioprocessing of non-food biomass
Project leader Margareth Øverland, NMBU-Biovit, NFR –(Havbruk + BIOTEK2021), (2014-2019)
Food-grade bacterial vectors as novel tuberculosis vaccines
Project leader Vincent Eijsink, NFR-GlobVac, (2014 – 2019)
ChitoTex- Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics
Project leader Fraunhofer, Germany. ERA-IB, (2015 – 2018)
BioMim- Advancing biomass technology – a biomimetic approach
Project leader Gry Alfredsen, NIBIO (Vincent Eijsink and Aniko Varnai were PIs)
VASP- Value-added sugar platform
Project leader Borregaard. (2017-2019)