Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Plant Cell and Biotechnology | HHU Düsseldorf


Prof. Dr. Markus Pauly

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Research topics and profile (related to bioeconomy)

With an estimated annual production of 180 billion tons per year plant cell walls (lignocellulosics) present an enormous renewable resource, of which only 2% are utilized by humans. The major bottleneck in utilizing this carbon neutral resource for the sustainable production of commodity chemicals is the recalcitrance of the wall material to degradation. With our various research projects we aim at characterizing the structural features of the plant cell wall that lead to this recalcitrance. Selecting or engineering plant feedstocks with reduced recalcitrance enhances the yield and reduces energy-input to produce sustainable commodity chemicals.

Contributions to BioSC

Our institute performs research in the areas of "sustainable bioproduction and resource protection" and " Microbial and Molecular mass conversion". This research includes:

  • An analytical platform for a detailed structural analysis of cell wall materials (cellulose, hemicellulose , pectin and lignin content and composition) . Mass spectrometric analysis of carbohydrate polymers present in plant biomass and their substituents.
  • Selection of plant varieties (e.g. maize, rice, sorghum), whose agronomic waste residues (such as straw) have a demonstrated improved digestability.
  • Engineering of wall polymers in the plant in order to achieve a higher yield of process feedstocks and a reduction of process inhibitors in the biomass.
  • Selection and testing of specific enzymes to break down the plant wall polymers.