Directed evolution on a chip

Chiara Leal Alves, Fatemeh Ahmadi

Cellulose is the one of the most abundant polysaccharide available in our planet and it can be broken down into fermentable sugars by enzymes. Therefore, it can be used for biofuels production through bioprocesses. Because of cellulose insolubility in water, usually a pre-step of dissolution in ionic liquids is required. However, the ionic has to be washed away due to the decreasing of enzymatic efficiency in this environment, this processs requires a lot of water. In order to decrease the water consumption and creating more efficient enzymes, we aim to use directed evolution, a synthetic biology tool, to engineer the enzymes involved in cellulose hydrolysis (betaglucosidase, endoglucanase and cellobiohydrolase) in order to keep their activity after pre-treatment with ionic liquids, the enzyme selection will be done using a combined droplet channel and digital microfluidic platform. 

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