New tools to study enzyme penetration and activity dynamics within wood cell walls

The main challenges in bioconversion of lignocellulose arise from our limited understanding of the heterogeneous chemistry of the substrate and poor accessibility of enzymes within dense wood cell walls. It is clear that our limited appreciation of enzyme penetration into cell walls and catalysis dynamics is partly due to the constraints of the techniques employed previously. Unlike these other studies, which addressed such questions by examining model substrates, I propose to examine and develop new tools for use on complex solid wood substrates. I plan to use time‐of‐flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF‐SIMS), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM‐D), and epifluorescence microscopy in conjunction with Alexa™ fluorophores. This suite of techniques is uniquely useful to simultaneously monitor both penetratability and chemical changes of the substrate (TOF‐SIMS), to differentiate between chemical modification and degradation of wood (QCM‐D), and to distinguish penetration of different enzymes (Alexa™ fluorophores with epifluorescence microscopy).

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Emma Master


Dragica Jeremic Nikolic



Engineering - chemical / biological




University of Toronto



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