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An enzymatic route to lignin-based functional chemicals

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Phenpropanone monomers can be produced from lignin via an enzymatic process developed by Yukari Ohta and coworkers at the R&D Center for Marine Biosciences, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Yokosuka City; www.jamstec.go.jp), in collaboration with National Defense Academy, Kyoto University and Saitama Institute of Technology. The monomers are produced from wood lignin using multiple enzymes that are derived from a marine bacterial strain. Such monomers have potential applications for making pharmaceuticals, functional foods and cosmetics. The aromatic monomers are directly made from natural lignin via a cascade reaction of b-O-4-cleaving bacterial enzymes in a one-pot synthesis. Guaiacylhydroxylpropanone (GHP) and the GHP/syringylhydroxylpropanone (SHP) mixture are exclusive monomers from lignin isolated from softwood (Cryptomeria japonica) and hardwood (Eucalyptus globulus). To demonstrate the applicability of GHP as a platform chemical for bio-based chemicals, the researchers chemically generated value-added GHP derivatives for biopolymers.
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