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New chitinases for the industrial biotechnology

: Moß, K.; Zibek, S.; Hirth, T.; Rupp, S.

Zentrum für Umweltkommunikation -ZUK-, Osnabrück; Verband der Chemischen Industrie -VCI-; Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker -GDCh-, Frankfurt/Main:
Biorefinica 2009 : International Symposium Biobased Products and Biorefineries ; January 27 and 28, 2009, Osnabrück
Potsdam: GmbH, 2009
ISBN: 978-3-00-027243-1
1 S.
International Symposium Biobased Products and Biorefineries (Biorefinica) <4, 2009, Osnabrück>
Fraunhofer IGB ()

In today's daylife many petroleum-based materials ensure our living standard. As crude oil resources are
running short, we have to identify renewable raw-materials in order to create alternatives for production
of materials equivalent to the nowadays commonly use of petroleum based materials to keep our living
standards. Chitin, the second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose, could be such an alternative. It
is found for example in crustaceans' and insects' carapace. Being a major component in the shellfishwaste
it is cheap and easily accessible for production processes. Built of N-acetylglucosamine (NAG)
monomers Chitin in contrast to glucose provides a naturally occurring resource for molecules containing
nitrogen, which may be used for the production of high-value building blocks such as pyrrols. In our
research we aim on the development of biotechnological processes to convert chitin to its monomer
NAG. Therefore we search for new powerful Chitin-degrading microorganisms and enzymes (Chitinases
EC including their encoding DNA-sequence. Using enrichment cultures and metagenomic
libraries we could identify 2 new chitinolytic organisms and new enzymes. The comparison of the DNAsequence
of one of the enzymes identified revealed a new chitinase with low similarity to known ones.
The production process of NAG is developed as a two-step-process were in the first step chitinases are
produced by the microorganisms on basis of either glucose or chitin and in the second step after
separation of the enzyme-producing cells crab-shells or other chitin containing substrates are
enzymatically degraded to the monomer NAG. We aim at a process in which no waste products as acid
or lime will have to be handled. NAG then could be used as a basic chemical for further conversion e.g.
to pyrrole or furan derivates.