High-Throughput Charaterization of Metagenomic Glycosidase Library

Enzymes, Nature’s catalysts, are increasingly used for the degradation of complex sugars such as starch and cellulose in industries such as food processing, brewing and biofuels. New enzymes are normally found by the slow process of assaying individual cultured microorganisms. Discovery can be speeded up enormously through metagenomics, wherein DNA is extracted from samples such as soil and useful genes, hence enzymes, identified by sequencing and screening. Importantly this also allows access to the otherwise inaccessible 95% of genes from non-culturable organisms. Metamixis is a Canadian company that generates metagenomic libraries to identify enzymes for production of biofuels and value-added chemicals. The Withers laboratory specializes in enzymes that degrade complex sugars and in the development of sensitive assays. Using novel screens glycosidases will be identified and characterized in high-throughput, yielding an enzyme library of commercial value, both through sale and through custom screening for enzymes of customer interest.

Feng Liu
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Stephen G. Withers
Project Year: 
British Columbia