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Trends in Biotechnology

Synthetic Biology towards Engineering Microbial Lignin Biotransformation

Allison L.Yaguchi1, Stephen J.Lee1, Shahram Talebi1, Mark A.Blenner1,2

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Clemson University, 206 South Palmetto Boulevard, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.


Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on earth and is a major source of aromatic compounds; however, it is vastly underutilized owing to its heterogeneous and recalcitrant nature. Microorganisms have evolved efficient mechanisms that overcome these challenges to depolymerize lignin and funnel complex mixtures of lignin-derived monomers to central metabolites. This review summarizes recent synthetic biology efforts to enhance lignin depolymerization and aromatic catabolism in bacterial and fungal hosts for the production of both natural and novel bioproducts. We also highlight difficulties in engineering complex phenotypes and discuss the outlook for the future of lignin biological valorization.

Keywords: synthetic biology, lignin, aromatic catabolism, lignin depolymerization, consolidated bioprocessing.

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