Collaborative Research: Bilateral BBSRC-NSF/BIO: Synthetic Biology for Lignin Utilization

Project: Research project

Project Details


We will engineer a bacterium, Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1, to become the first lignin utilizing chassis. The success of this approach will allow harvested biomass to be fully exploited as a raw material. In ADP1, lignin catabolism is modular, making it ideal for developing standardized biochemical parts. Many aromatic compounds are converted to a few ring-cleavage substrates (e.g. catechol and protocatechuate) by “upper pathways.” Such pathways appear to evolve in a stepwise manner that involves clustered genes, subsets of interacting proteins, and pathway modules [2]. Pathway metabolites could be easily derivatized for use as fuel additives, solvents, and other specialty chemicals. Moreover aromatics could be further degraded to acetyl-CoA for use in central carbon metabolism-derived products. Our current project focuses on the upper part of the lignin funnel: the conversion of complex ligninderived mixtures to central metabolites. To date, the inefficient degradation of these mixtures is the primary bottleneck that hinders lignin from being used as a feedstock to make fuels and other chemicals.
Effective start/end date8/1/167/31/21


  • National Science Foundation (MCB-1614953)


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