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An Aspergillus strain to produce second-generation biofuels 

In the context of the ANR E-TRICEL contract, scientists have identified a strain of Aspergillus that can significantly increase the biodegradability of lignocellulosic substrates.  Evaluated as a supplement to the optimum enzyme cocktail, enzymes from this strain enabled a 20% increase in the glucose yield.

Aspergillus. © INRA
Updated on 10/25/2013
Published on 10/25/2013

A technological obstacle: the limited efficiency of enzymes

One of the current limitations to the production process for second-generation biofuels is linked to the poor performance of the enzymatic cocktails used to break down lignocellulosic biomass into fermentescible monosaccharides.  This forces manufacturers to use considerable quantities of enzymes, and the associated cost of this can represent up to 30% of the total cost of biofuel production. 

 

The ANR E-TRICEL project: some encouraging results

The aim of the ANR E-TRICEL research programme initiated by ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) in the context of fungal diversity, is to identify and test new strains that are capable of producing enzymes to supplement the cocktail used currently by industry for the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass.

This research programme has been able to identify several dozen fungi specific for their ability to degrade lignocellulose.  New fungal enzymes, and notably glycoside hydrolases and oxidases were identified and characterised, and some produced at a large scale.  Finally, a strain of Aspergillus was chosen for testing under conditions similar to those applied during industrial enzymatic hydrolysis.  The enzymatic enhancement contributed by this fungal strain enabled a 20% increase in the final yield of monosaccharide production from pretreated wheat straw.

This work was carried out in collaboration with CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) and IFPEN and led to the filing of two patents, one on a multi-enzyme preparation containing the secretome of a strain of Aspergillus japonicus and the other on an alcohol production process which supplementedTrichoderma reeseienzymes with those from the Podospora anserinafungus.

 

Initiation of a collaboration in genomics…

These fungi identified for their ability to improve the breakdown of plant cell walls are currently the subject of a further study: the Joint Research Unit for the Biotechnology of Filamentous Fungi (UMR-1163) BCF) in Marseilles is collaborating with the Joint Genome Institute (US Department of Energy) to sequence their genomes.  This will enable the identification of new, high-performance enzymes for the processing of plant biomass and the production of platform molecules for green chemistry.

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Science for Food and Bioproduct Engineering
Associated Centre(s):
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

The E-TRICEL project

ANR E –TRICEL is a research programme that was initiated in 2007 for a period of 54 months, involving the following partners:

  • Joint Research Unit on the Architecture and Function of Biological Macromolecules (AFMB)
  • Joint Research Unit for the Biotechnology of Filamentous Fungi
  • Joint Research Unit on Ecology in French Guiana Rain Forests
  • IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN)
  • the company SAF-ISIS

 In collaboration with:

  • CIRM-CF (International Centre for Microbial Resources-Filamentous Fungi)
  • Joint Research Unit for Agropolymer Engineering and Emerging Technologies
  • The INRA INRA PAPPSO proteomics platform

For more information: http://www6.paca.inra.fr/umrbcf