Fungal Enzymes and Yeasts for Conversion of Plant Biomass to Bioenergy and High-Value Products

Lene Lange

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Fungi and fungal enzymes play important roles in the new bioeconomy. Enzymes from filamentous fungi can unlock the potential of recalcitrant lignocellulose structures of plant cell walls as a new resource, and fungi such as yeast can produce bioethanol from the sugars released after enzyme treatment. Such processes reflect inherent characteristics of the fungal way of life, namely, that fungi as heterotrophic organisms must break down complex carbon structures of organic materials to satisfy their need for carbon and nitrogen for growth and reproduction. This chapter describes major steps in the conversion of plant biomass to value-added products. These products provide a basis for substituting fossil-derived fuels, chemicals, and materials, as well as unlocking the biomass potential of the agricultural harvest to yield more food and feed. This article focuses on the mycological basis for the fungal contribution to biorefinery processes, which are instrumental for improved resource efficiency and central to the new bioeconomy. Which types of processes, inherent to fungal physiology and activities in nature, are exploited in the new industrial processes? Which families of the fungal kingdom and which types of fungal habitats and ecological specializations are hot spots for fungal biomass conversion? How can the best fungal enzymes be found and optimized for industrial use? How can they be produced most efficiently-in fungal expression hosts? How have industrial biotechnology and biomass conversion research contributed to mycology and environmental research? Future perspectives and approaches are listed, highlighting the importance of fungi in development of the bioeconomy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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