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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Enzymatic transformation of nonfood biomass to starch.


PMID 23589840

Abstract

The global demand for food could double in another 40 y owing to growth in the population and food consumption per capita. To meet the world's future food and sustainability needs for biofuels and renewable materials, the production of starch-rich cereals and cellulose-rich bioenergy plants must grow substantially while minimizing agriculture's environmental footprint and conserving biodiversity. Here we demonstrate one-pot enzymatic conversion of pretreated biomass to starch through a nonnatural synthetic enzymatic pathway composed of endoglucanase, cellobiohydrolyase, cellobiose phosphorylase, and alpha-glucan phosphorylase originating from bacterial, fungal, and plant sources. A special polypeptide cap in potato alpha-glucan phosphorylase was essential to push a partially hydrolyzed intermediate of cellulose forward to the synthesis of amylose. Up to 30% of the anhydroglucose units in cellulose were converted to starch; the remaining cellulose was hydrolyzed to glucose suitable for ethanol production by yeast in the same bioreactor. Next-generation biorefineries based on simultaneous enzymatic biotransformation and microbial fermentation could address the food, biofuels, and environment trilemma.

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