Recent patents on genetic modification of plants and microbes for biomass conversion to biofuels

Simona Lubieniechi, Thinesh Peranantham, David B Levin
Recent Patents on DNA & Gene Sequences 2013 April 1, 7 (1): 25-35
Development of sustainable energy systems based on renewable biomass feedstocks is now a global effort. Lignocellulosic biomass contains polymers of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, bound together in a complex structure. Liquid biofuels, such as ethanol, can be made from biomass via fermentation of sugars derived from the cellulose and hemicellulose within lignocellulosic materials, but pre-treatment of the biomass to release sugars for microbial conversion is a significant barrier to commercial success of lignocellulosic biofuel production. Strategies to reduce the energy and cost inputs required for biomass pre-treatment include genetic modification of plant materials to reduce lignin content. Significant efforts are also underway to create recombinant microorganisms capable of converting sugars derived from lignocellulosic biomass to a variety of biofuels. An alternative strategy to reduce the costs of cellulosic biofuel production is the use of cellulolytic microorganisms capable of direct microbial conversion of ligno-cellulosic biomass to fuels. This paper reviews recent patents on genetic modification of plants and microbes for biomass conversion to biofuels.


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