464240 Deciphering Lignin Deconstruction Mechanism of Lower Termite

Thursday, November 17, 2016: 3:15 PM
Union Square 21 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Shulin Chen, Biological Systems Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Although fascinating, the exact process of plant cell wall degradation developed by nature and implemented in lower termites remains unclear. We have been conducting systematic studies on the lignin deconstruction mechanism over the last seven years as an effort to develop nature-inspired technologies for lignocellulose processing. A series of experimental and analytical techniques from various disciplines were used in our studies. Scientific questions explored included mircrochemical environment of the termite guts, structural and composition changes of lignocellulose along the termite digestion track, critical enzyme systems involved in lignin deconstruction, chemical reactions that modifies lignin structure, and disassociation energy levels of different chemical bonds that form lignin structure. Integrating these results makes it possible to propose a chemical reaction mechanism and associated lignin degradation pathways. The mechanism and the pathway will be presented and discussed in the proposed paper. The results of the study provide new insights for developing more sustainable processes for plant cell wall deconstruction required in biorefineries.

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