The biological conversion for upgrading of lignin involves selecting and characterizing microorganisms with interesting properties, which can come from culture collections or from different lignin-rich environments.
Characterisation of natural isolates
One task in the project is to characterize natural isolates from various environments and determine how efficiently these break down various aromatic compounds. With this knowledge, more efficient and robust microbial strains can be developed by metabolic engineering, and new lignin pretreatment strategies can be designed.
Building a database on microbial lignin catabolism
Another subproject focuses on building a database on microbial lignin catabolism based on data from previously published scientific papers. The aim is to bring the bibliome of this field together in a single searchable platform, which will give an overview of central aspects of the molecular biology of lignin- and aromatic catabolism that occurs in nature. This will be of benefit to researchers who want to explore new metabolic engineering strategies for use of lignin. The database will be released to the public in mid-spring 2017, at www.elignindatabase.com.