In Brazil, a group of researchers at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), working in partnership with colleagues at the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory (LNBR) in Campinas, São Paulo State, Brazil, have discovered that Trichoderma harzianum, a fungus found in the Amazon, produces an enzyme with the potential to play a key role in enzyme cocktails.
The enzyme, which is called β-glucosidase and belongs to glycoside hydrolase family 1 (GH1), acts in the last stage of biomass degradation to produce free glucose for fermentation and conversion into ethanol. In the laboratory, however, the researchers observed that high levels of glucose inhibited the activity of β-glucosidase.
Based on an analysis of the enzyme’s structure combined with genomics and molecular biology techniques, the researchers were able to modify the structure to solve these problems and considerably enhance its biomass degradation efficiency.
The study resulted from a project with a regular research grant from FAPESP and a Thematic Project also supported by FAPESP. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.