Development and production of special phenol-oxidising enzymes

Université Libre de BruxellesInstitute:

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB),
Laboratoire de Physiologie et Ecologie microbienne (ULB-UPEM)


642 rue Engeland
B-1180 Bruxelles, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 3733303
Fax: +32 2 3733309
Web site:

Project leader:

Prof. Michel J. PENNINCKX, Ph.D. (mpenninc(at)

Responsible co-worker:

Prof. Gloria A. JIMENEZ, Ph.D. (gjimenez(at)
Charles J. JASPERS, Ph.D. (cjaspers(at)


This partner bring in his strong experience in the production and application of lignin-modifying enzymes for degradation of lignin derivatives present in pulp and paper effluents and in industrial dyes, for polyphenols present in Olive Oil mill wastes and recently endocrine disruptors (bisphenol, nonylphenol, triclosan).

The principal role of the Partner ULB-UPEM is to select fungal strains efficient for enzymatic modification of the raw material in order to reduce emission of Volatile Organic Compounds. Strain collections, in particular of White Rot Fungi (WRF), coming from all over the world (e.g. tropical forests of Latin America and African countries) are in hands of this partner and will be deeply screened for enzyme production.

Detailed activities of Partner ULB-UPEM

a) Selection of WRF strains producing copious amount of thermostable lignin modifying enzymes:

Collections of WRF strains will be screened for laccase production. From previous projects, the partner has already made a pre-selection of around 20 WRF strains among more than 300 strains. These pre-selected strains are estimated as possible candidates for the present project. Suitable cultivation media, added with different inducers will be tested. WRF strains producing copious amount of thermostable phenol-oxidising enzymes will be selected.

b) Study of the enzyme production capacity in submerged and in solid state fermentation:

Two main options will be envisaged for enzyme production: (i) Submerged cultivation of whole fungal cells in batch. The effect of different cultivation parameters on enzyme production will be tested in laboratory scale. These include inducers as well as the morphology in dependence on bioprocess parameters, (ii) Cells immobilized on different supports [solid state fermentation (SSF)]. Partner ULB has experience concerning different bio-materials, including straw, wheat bran, tree leaves. SSF has been shown to be a choice and cheap cultivation method for enzyme production by Partner 3 and other research teams.

c) Study of the catalytic properties of the enzymes:

In a first step, general properties of enzymes present in the produced cocktails will be studied, in particular effects of temperature and pH on the activity and stability. Further investigations will include substrate specificity, in particular activity towards different lignin monomers.

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