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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2007 Jun;18(3):237-45. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

The potential of cellulases and cellulosomes for cellulosic waste management.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100, Israel.


Lignocellulose is the most abundant plant cell wall component of the biosphere and the most voluminous waste produced by our society. Fortunately, it is not toxic or directly harmful, but our major waste disposal facilities--the landfills--are rapidly filling up with few realistic alternatives. Because cellulose is pure glucose, its conversion to fine products or fuels has remained a romantic and popular notion; however, the heterogeneous and recalcitrant nature of cellulosic waste presents a major obstacle for conventional conversion processes. One paradigm for the conversion of biomass to products in nature relies on a multienzyme complex, the cellulosome. Microbes that produce cellulosomes convert lignocelluose to microbial cell mass and products (e.g. ethanol) simultaneously. The combination of designer cellulosomes with novel production concepts could in the future provide the breakthroughs necessary for economical conversion of cellulosic biomass to biofuels.

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