New Microfluidic Chips for Large-Scale Screening of Biomass Hydrolysis


Large numbers of cellulose enzymes, the enzymes used to break down cellulosic biomass to produce fermentable sugars, need to be screened to identify the best enzymes and the most effective processing conditions for biofuel production from cellulosic biomass. Researchers at DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a new microfluidic chip-based assay to rapidly and precisely characterize biomass hydrolysis products, especially glycan and xylan sugars. They solved the difficult challenge of separating and identifying these closely related sugars by modeling and optimizing the process in the microfluidic system. They describe the use of this new system, demonstrating its ability to rapidly screen for hydrolysis products on the order of one minute. These results suggest that that this new system could be adapted to large-scale, rapid characterization of cellulase enzyme cocktails. This study was featured on the November 15, 2010 cover of Analytical Chemistry.


Bharadwaj, R., Z. Chen, S. Data, B.M. Holmes, R. Sapra, B.A. Simmons, P.D. Adams, and A.K. Singh. 2010. “Microfluidic Glycosyl Hydrolase Screening for Biomass-to-Biofuel Conversion,” Analytical Chemistry. Released online on October 22, 2010, DOI: 10.1021/ac102243f/