DeLignoBact - Degradation of Lignin by Bacteria

DeLignoBact - Degradation of Lignin by Bacteria

The project aims at identifying bacterial enzymes that are able to degrade lignin.



Lignin is one of the main components of non-edible plant materials but is not utilized in an optimal way today. By gaining a better understanding of the enzymatic systems involved in lignin degradation in Nature, we will be able to utilize lignin as a renewable resource for aromatic compounds. Today, oil and gas are the main sources for aromatic compounds, hence, this project will potentially contribute to a greener technology for production of these compounds, which are used for producing a wide variety of compounds.

Non-edible plant materials consist of lignocellulose, the most abundant renewable resource on Earth, which is made up by three main components: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Most biorefineries focus mainly on the utilization of cellulose, a process demanding a pretreatment of the wood. The pretreatment methods result in unfavorable changes in the lignin, reducing its value. Consequently, the lignin is often only used for combustion instead of as a renewable resource for aromatic compounds. Quite a lot of knowledge on how fungi degrade lignin exists, while the ability of bacteria to degrade lignin has been explored to a lesser extent. Hence, DeLignoBact will explore the enzymes involved in bacterial degradation of lignin. We will collect soil samples from different depths and use these to enrich for bacteria able to degrade lignin. By studying the bacteria present and the enzymes they utilize in the degradation process, we hope to identify the enzyme systems necessary for effective degradation. Can we do this, the results will be used for design of an enzymatic cocktail for lignin degradation, which will be of interest for industrial processes. Another goal for this project is to study the interplay between lignin degrading enzymes and other enzymes involved in degradation of the other components of lignocellulose: cellulose and hemicellulose.