Enzymes are biological catalysts that are part of our daily life. In an industrial context, the use of enzymes offers an enormous potential in the improvement of existing industrial procedures and in the establishment of new processes for obtaining high-added value products. Due to their biocatalyst conditions, enzymes are also used to provide cleaner and more efficient industrial processes and thus, contributing to a sustainable development.
Among the described enzymes, laccases represent an interesting group. Laccases are multicopper-containing oxidases with phenoloxidase activity. They have been described for many years in plants, insects, bacteria and fungi and depending on the source, their physiological functions may differ.
Due to their oxidative versatility, low catalytic requirements, and ability to catalyze degradation or polymerization reactions, laccases have shown huge applicability in different sectors such as:
- lignocellulosic biorefineries as delignification and detoxification agents,
- as bleaching agents in the pulp and paper industry,
- for beverage (wine, beer, juice) stabilization in the food industry,
- as detergents or cotton bleaching agents in textile industry,
- in bioremediation and removal of environmental pollutants and,
- as interesting tools to be applied for bioelectrochemical purposes in biosensor devices.
Laccases are also offering new opportunities to treat emerging contaminants that can severely affect the environment and consequently living beings and they can be explored as source of anticancer and antifungal drugs. Furthermore, new applications of laccase are arising such is the case of enzymatic biofuel cells for healthcare applications in pacemakers or wearable electronic devices such as smart watches, fitness bands and wearable electrocardiogram detectors.
The Biotechnological Processes Unit of the IMDEA Energy is formed by experienced researchers in different areas of biotechnology such as the use of microorganisms (yeasts and bacteria) for the production of bioenergy and bioproducts, and the use of enzymatic biocatalysts such as laccase to improve different bioprocesses. Thus, the Unit has achieved very promising results in the removal of inhibitory phenolic compounds present in the lignocellulosic media used for bioethanol production by employing laccases.
This work was carried out in collaboration with researchers from CIEMAT (Madrid, Spain) and INIA (Madrid, Spain). All of them, top scientists in the application of laccases in different biotechnological processes.
Moreno, A.D., Ibarra, D., Eugenio, M.E., Tomás-Pejó, E. Laccases as versatile enzymes: from industrial uses to novel applications, (2020) Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 95 (3), pp. 481-494. https://doi.org/10.1002/jctb.6224
More information: Elia Tomás Pejó, Senior Assistant Researcher, Biotechnological Processes Unit. email@example.com