Plant derived feedstocks for industrial bioprocesses are made up of a complex set of materials. Carbohydrates in plants are used to store energy (e.g. starch) and provide structure (e.g. cellulose). These sugars can be in simple or complex forms, consisting of different sugar types linked together by a variety of chemical bonds, and at times decorated with additional chemical components.
This natural variety can make it difficult to break down and convert parts of these feedstocks, resulting in lost yield and productivity for producers. Mascomas CBP, addresses this problem in two ways. First, tailored enzyme systems are assembled into a robust yeast platform, and secreted to break down plant derived sugars into monomers at low marginal cost. Second, the released sugars (glucose, xylose, arabinose, mannose, galactose, etc.) are fermented to products like ethanol at high yield with minimal byproduct formation.
Hemicellulose is a structural carbohydrate found in plant materials. It is a heterogeneous polymer of sugars, primarily xylan, with chemical decorations (acetyl and glucuronoyl groups among others) added to protect it from microbial attack. Typical processes to convert lignocellulose rely on either harsh acid treatment or expensive enzymes to break down hemicellulose to monomers. Hemicellulose that is not converted is extremely inhibitory to cellulases, reducing overall hydrolysis performance.