Work group Prof. Dr. Ursula Kües:

Topic: "Enzymes for biochemical modification of wood fibers"
Wood- and plant-litter-degrading basidiomycetous fungi are rich sources for interesting enzymes to serve in a wide range of biotechnological applications. Laccases for example are enzymes with a broad substrate range. Among other substrates, laccases can oxidize lignin and xenobiotic compounds which makes them attractive "green catalysts" in wood composite production, delignification of paper pulps or in biofuel-production from lignocellulosic materials.
This PhD project targets at production, characterization and modification of novel laccases for applications in the wood industry sector. Laccases will be obtained from wood decay fungi or recombinantly produced after transferring interesting laccase genes in suitable fungal hosts. Natural properties of free and immobilized enzymes with lignocellulose, wood fibers and other compounds will be analyzed. Genetic engineering will serve to possibly optimize the natural properties such as stability, pH and temperature optima, and reactions rates to better adopt the enzymes to targeted applications. Furthermore, reactions in combination with other enzymes will be studied in course of process optimizations.