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Biotechnol Adv. 2012 Jul-Aug;30(4):920-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2012.01.021. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Application of metagenomic techniques in mining enzymes from microbial communities for biofuel synthesis.

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Department of Biological Engineering and Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering of Ministry of Education, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China.


Feedstock for biofuel synthesis is transitioning to lignocelluosic biomass to address criticism over competition between first generation biofuels and food production. As microbial catalysis is increasingly applied for the conversion of biomass to biofuels, increased import has been placed on the development of novel enzymes. With revolutionary advances in sequencer technology and metagenomic sequencing, mining enzymes from microbial communities for biofuel synthesis is becoming more and more practical. The present article highlights the latest research progress on the special characteristics of metagenomic sequencing, which has been a powerful tool for new enzyme discovery and gene functional analysis in the biomass energy field. Critical enzymes recently developed for the pretreatment and conversion of lignocellulosic materials are evaluated with respect to their activity and stability, with additional explorations into xylanase, laccase, amylase, chitinase, and lipolytic biocatalysts for other biomass feedstocks.

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