Team:Mississippi State




  Project   Papers and Notebook

Lignin is a ubiquitous, extremely complex biopolymer found in plant cells. It is the most recalcitrant part of the cell wall, and only a few organisms possess the machinery necessary for its degradation. As a result, a huge proportion of the earth's biomass resources are trapped in a highly degradation resistant lignin matrix. To make these resources viable for energy and chemical needs, lignin must be broken down to separate the chemical components of biomass.


Mississippi State seeks to benefit the uses of non-food material biomass as a source of energy. Though ethanol and other biofuels offer an alternative to fossil fuels, their extraction from food crops is unrealistic and puts enormous economic strain on both food products and the further development of natural fuels. Biomass waste contains a huge amount of unused cellulose and hemicellulose, the raw materials for biofuel production. In addition, Lignin has been shown to be a source of biogasoline, which conforms better than any current biofuel to the existing energy infrastructure. As a result, this project will develop a better method for natural degradation of biomass to reduce the costs and complications involved with current methods.

We have isolated a single gene from the Lignin Peroxidase gene family. This gene has been sequenced and cloned into Pichia Pastoris for testing. This gene produces the Lignin Peroxidase enzyme responsible for initiating the breakdown of lignin. Upon this fundamental research can be built a characterized and controllable system for the breakdown of biomass. Our project is vital to developing a biological process for degrading biomass. Lignin Peroxidase initiates this process, so we see fit that this technology must be the first developed. We want to make our resources a reality, and this project is the first step.