Lignocellulose degradation mechanisms across the Tree of Life

Simon Cragg, Gregg T. Beckham, Neil C. Bruce, Tim Bugg, Daniel L. Distel, Paul Dupree, Amaia Green Etxabe, Barry S. Goodell, Jody Jellison, John Edward McGeehan, Simon McQueen-Mason, Kirk Schnorr, Paul Howard Walton, Joy Watts, Martin Zimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

465 Downloads (Pure)


Organisms use diverse mechanisms involving multiple complementary enzymes, particularly glycoside hydrolases (GHs), to deconstruct lignocellulose. Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) produced by bacteria and fungi facilitate deconstruction as does the Fenton chemistry of brown-rot fungi. Lignin depolymerisation is achieved by white-rot fungi and certain bacteria, using peroxidases and laccases. Meta-omics is now revealing the complexity of prokaryotic degradative activity in lignocellulose-rich environments. Protists from termite guts and some oomycetes produce multiple lignocellulolytic enzymes. Lignocellulose-consuming animals secrete some GHs, but most harbour a diverse enzyme-secreting gut microflora in a mutualism that is particularly complex in termites. Shipworms however, house GH-secreting and LPMO-secreting bacteria separate from the site of digestion and the isopod Limnoria relies on endogenous enzymes alone. The omics revolution is identifying many novel enzymes and paradigms for biomass deconstruction, but more emphasis on function is required, particularly for enzyme cocktails, in which LPMOs may play an important role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-119
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Opinion in Chemical Biology
Early online date14 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • BB/H531543/1
  • BB/L001926/1
  • BB/1018492/1
  • BB/K020358/1
  • BB/G016208/1
  • RCUK


Dive into the research topics of 'Lignocellulose degradation mechanisms across the Tree of Life'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this