Learning from microbial strategies for polysaccharide degradation

Glyn R. Hemsworth*, Guillaume Déjean, Gideon J. Davies, Harry Brumer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complex carbohydrates are ubiquitous in all kingdoms of life. As major components of the plant cell wall they constitute both a rich renewable carbon source for biotechnological transformation into fuels, chemicals and materials, and also form an important energy source as part of a healthy human diet. In both contexts, there has been significant, sustained interest in understanding how microbes transform these substrates. Classical perspectives of microbial polysaccharide degradation are currently being augmented by recent advances in the discovery of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) and polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs). Fundamental discoveries in carbohydrate enzymology are both advancing biological understanding, as well as informing applications in industrial biomass conversion and modulation of the human gut microbiota to mediate health benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-108
Number of pages15
JournalBiochemical Society transactions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2016


  • Biomass
  • Cellulase
  • Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase
  • Polysaccharide utilization loci

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