Lignocellulosic hydrolysate (LCH) inhibitors are a large class of bioactive molecules that arise from pretreatment, hydrolysis, and fermentation of plant biomass. These diverse compounds reduce lignocellulosic biofuel yields by inhibiting cellular processes and diverting energy into cellular responses. LCH inhibitors present one of the most significant challenges to efficient biofuel production by microbes. Development of new strains that lessen the effects of LCH inhibitors is an economically favorable strategy relative to expensive detoxification methods that also can reduce sugar content in deconstructed biomass. Systems biology analyses and metabolic modeling combined with directed evolution and synthetic biology are successful strategies for biocatalyst development, and methods that leverage state-of-the-art tools are needed to overcome inhibitors more completely. This perspective considers the energetic costs of LCH inhibitors and technologies that can be used to overcome their drain on conversion efficiency. We suggest academic and commercial research groups could benefit by sharing data on LCH inhibitors and implementing "translational biofuel research."
Piotrowski, J. S., Zhang, Y., Bates, D. M., Keating, D. H., Sato, T. K., Ong, I. M., & Landick, R. (2014). Death by a thousand cuts: The challenges and diverse landscape of lignocellulosic hydrolysate inhibitors. Frontiers in Microbiology, 5(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00090