Thermostable endoglucanases in the liquefaction of hydrothermally pretreated wheat straw

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Abstract

Background: Thermostable enzymes have several benefits in lignocellulose processing. In particular, they potentially allow the use of increased substrate concentrations (because the substrate viscosity decreases as the temperature increases), resulting in improved product yields and reduced capital and processing costs. A short pre-hydrolysis step at an elevated temperature using thermostable enzymes aimed at rapid liquefaction of the feedstock is seen as an attractive way to overcome the technical problems (such as poor mixing and mass transfer properties) connected with high initial solid loadings in the lignocellulose to ethanol process. Results: The capability of novel thermostable enzymes to reduce the viscosity of high-solid biomass suspensions using a real-time viscometric measurement method was investigated. Heterologously expressed enzymes from various thermophilic organisms were compared for their ability to liquefy the lignocellulosic substrate, hydrothermally pretreated wheat straw. Once the best enzymes were identified, the optimal temperatures for these enzymes to decrease substrate viscosity were compared. The combined hydrolytic properties of the thermostable preparations were tested in hydrolysis experiments. The studied mixtures were primarily designed to have good liquefaction potential, and therefore contained an enhanced proportion of the key liquefying enzyme, EGII/Cel5A. Conclusions: Endoglucanases were shown to have a superior ability to rapidly reduce the viscosity of the 15% (w/w; dry matter) hydrothermally pretreated wheat straw. Based on temperature profiling studies, Thermoascus aurantiacus EGII/Cel5A was the most promising enzyme for biomass liquefaction. Even though they were not optimized for saccharification, many of the thermostable enzyme mixtures had superior hydrolytic properties compared with the commercial reference enzymes at 55°C. © 2011 Szijrtá et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Szijártó, N., Horan, E., Zhang, J., Puranen, T., Siika-Aho, M., & Viikari, L. (2011). Thermostable endoglucanases in the liquefaction of hydrothermally pretreated wheat straw. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/1754-6834-4-2

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