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Biotechnology for Biofuels
Vol. 9, 2016

Diversity of fungal feruloyl esterases: updated phylogenetic classification, properties, and industrial applications

Adiphol Dilokpimol, Miia R. Mäkelä, Maria Victoria Aguilar-Pontes, Isabelle Benoit-Gelber, Kristiina S. Hildén and Ronald P. de Vries

Fungal Physiology, CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre & Fungal Molecular Physiology, Utrecht University.


Feruloyl esterases (FAEs) represent a diverse group of carboxyl esterases that specifically catalyze the hydrolysis of ester bonds between ferulic (hydroxycinnamic) acid and plant cell wall polysaccharides. Therefore, FAEs act as accessory enzymes to assist xylanolytic and pectinolytic enzymes in gaining access to their site of action during biomass conversion. Their ability to release ferulic acid and other hydroxycinnamic acids from plant biomass makes FAEs potential biocatalysts in a wide variety of applications such as in biofuel, food and feed, pulp and paper, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. This review provides an updated overview of the knowledge on fungal FAEs, in particular describing their role in plant biomass degradation, diversity of their biochemical properties and substrate specificities, their regulation and conditions needed for their induction. Furthermore, the discovery of new FAEs using genome mining and phylogenetic analysis of current publicly accessible fungal genomes will also be presented. This has led to a new subfamily classification of fungal FAEs that takes into account both phylogeny and substrate specificity.

Keywords: Feruloyl esterase Ferulic acid Cinnamic acid P-coumaric acid Hydroxycinnamic acid Plant cell wall Phylogenetic analysis Applications Biotechnology.

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