Investigation of carbohydrate active enzymes and their adaptations for crystallinity at Københavns Universitet

In our world today, there has been great interest in the transition from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based one. In order to achieve this goal, unlocking the recalcitrance of the biomass is of paramount importance. In recent years, great progress has been made using enzymatic cocktails, containing carbohydrate active enzymes to degrade polysaccharide fibers, such as cellulose. An important component in these cocktails is the family of metallo-enzymes called Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenases (LPMOs). Their ability to act on the crystalline regions of the cellulose, which are less accessible to other enzymes, makes them an essential tool for unlocking the full potential of biomass as an energy source.

In this project, you will investigate the ability of LPMO enzymes to degrade cellulosic substrates with high degree of crystallinity. Cellulose, extracted from the cell walls of the unicellular algae Valonia, is considered to be some of the most pure and highly crystalline cellulose found in nature. This makes it a perfect tool in investigating the adaptations of enzymes for degradation of recalcitrant substrates.

Your work will involve extraction of cellulosic substrates and their characterization before and after enzymatic treatment. You will investigate LPMO enzymes alone, as well as in synergy with other carbohydrate-active enzymes. By utilizing varied microscopy techniques, you will answer questions about the cellulose structure and the mode of action of these enzymes on its surface. In addition to microscopy, you will gain experience with characterization of enzyme activity and affinity, with techniques such as HPLC, microplate assays, ITC.

Attention: Often you need a pre-approval from your university or study counselor, to ensure that projects or thesis found on AU Job- og Projektbank will be accepted as part of your education. Please contact the right entity in due time to ensure that you're picking the right project.