Biological Funneling of Aromatics from Chemically Depolymerized Lignin Produces a Desirable Chemical Product

The Science

  • Develop a model for the degradation of plant-derived aromatic compounds in N. aromaticivorans.
  • Create a defined set of mutations predicted to result in simultaneous production of PDC from all three major plant-derived aromatic compounds.
  • Determine yield of PDC for the mutant strain when grown on a variety of aromatic compounds, including depolymerized poplar lignin.

The Impact

  • The engineered strain converts aromatic compounds into PDC with yields ranging from 22% to 100%; heterogeneous depolymerized lignin is funneled to PDC with a 59% yield.
  • Valuable advance in funneling mixtures of aromatic compounds into defined single commodities.


Engineer Novosphingobium aromaticivorans to funnel heterogeneous mixtures of lignin-derived aromatic compounds to 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic acid (PDC), a bioplastic precursor.


Perez, J.M. et al. “Funneling aromatic products of chemically depolymerized lignin into 2-pyrone-4-6-dicarboxylic acid with Novosphingobium aromaticivorans.” Green Chemistry 21(6), 1340–1350 (2019). [DOI:10.1039/C8GC03504K]