Forschen • Ausbilden • Vernetzen
Für eine nachhaltige Bioökonomie

Forschen • Ausbilden • Vernetzen
Für eine nachhaltige Bioökonomie
BOOST FUND Projekt BioBreak

Enzymes for Biomass Breakdown


Plant biomass is one of the most important sources of renewable raw material for the bioeconomic production of energy, fuels and chemicals. The biotechnological utilization of plant biomass combines physical, chemical, and biocatalytic processes; however, substantial costs still prevent a thorough replacement of oil-based feedstocks. Here, the most significant cost factor is the enzymatic breakdown of plant biomass, because many enzymes can still not be produced in large enough quantities and at reasonable costs. Therefore, the project BioBreak aimed to evaluate two well-known bacterial expression strains, namely Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, for the production of biomass-degrading enzymes to establish viable alternatives to existing fungal systems.

The BioBreak consortium succeeded to optimize two important bacterial secretion systems, namely the Type I system of Escherichia coli and the Sec-system of Bacillus subtilis. Secretion of model proteins was studied at lab scale and under fermentation conditions. Furthermore, a novel high- throughput assay was established to monitor protein secretion using split GFP and a high- throughput automated xylanase activity assay was developed. Finally, a mechanistic model was set up for xylanase-dependent biomass degradation that will be part of predictions of optimal enzyme cocktails depending on the biomass composition.

Participating Core Groups

Prof. Dr. Karl-Erich Jaeger
, Dr. Andreas Knapp; Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology (IMET), Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf and Institute of Bio and Geosciences-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Dr. Andreas Knapp

Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology,
Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 2461-61-1478
Fax.: +49 2461-61-2490

Prof. Dr. Lutz Schmitt, Dr. Christian Schwarz
, Institute of Biochemistry I, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. Antje Spieß, AVT-Enzyme Process Technology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen
Prof. Dr. Jochen Büchs, AVT-Biochemical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen

Partners from industry
AB Enzymes GmbH, Feldbergstrasse 78, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany.

Project duration
1.11.2014 – 31.12.2016

Funding budget
BioBreak is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Lenders, MH, Beer, T, Smits, SH and Schmitt, L (2016). In vivo quantification of the secretion rates of the hemolysin a type i secretion system. Sci Rep 6: 33275.