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Marine wood borer enzyme discovery

Sustainable liquid biofuels can be produced from lignocellulosic biomass such as wood and straw. These materials contain polysaccharides (polymers of sugars) that can be converted into simple sugars which can be fermented to produce liquid biofuels. Currently we lack effective enzymes to digest these woody materials. However, marine wood borers are voracious consumers of lignocellulose and have all the enzymes needed for its digestion.

Aims and objectives

We have already sequenced the genes that are expressed in the marine wood borer gut and which encode the digestive enzymes. We will study the digestive process in borers and investigate industrial applications for their enzymes in biofuel production.

Image: BBSRC

Key resources and technologies

  • Comprehensive sequence database for genes encoding borer digestive enzymes
  • Automated protein production
  • Analytical biochemistry
  • Expertise in marine borer biology
  • Pilot facilities for lignocellulosic ethanol production

Programme lead

  • The University of York

Associated programme members

  • University of Portsmouth