For the production of biorenewables, one needs to first deconstruct biomass into its building blocks and then convert them into molecules of high added value and intermediates. At LNBR, we cover all the scientific aspects in this productive chain from biotech solutions to boost agriculture, development of enzymes and microorganisms for biorefinery, process scaling up, to sustainability issues. The heart of our strategy is on the detailed atomic and molecular understanding of these systems using thermodynamic approaches, electron microscopy and ultimately synchrotron radiation.

There are four main thrusts: (i) Genetic Engineering – editing bacteria, yeasts and fungi to rewire, activate and shutdown metabolic pathways or to assimilate information (genes) from other microorganisms or proteins, enabling new functions (such as consuming more than one kind of sugar); (ii) Protein Design –  redesign specific parts of proteins or rationally build synthetic chimeric proteins, for example, to improve the efficiency of bioprocesses or to make compatible with the extreme industrial conditions; (iii) Omic Sciences – genome, transcriptome and proteome research dedicated to the elucidation of molecular pathways in bacteria, yeasts, and fungi and in microbial communities; and (iv) Simulation and Modeling – integrated assessment of socioeconomic and environmental impact for biorefineries and monitoring of natural resources associated with biomass production.

Research Areas

Enzymology & Protein Engineering

Enzymes play fundamental roles in Biotechnology as components of industrial processes or as final products. The valorization of agro-industrial residues from their depolymerization to conversion to added-value products heavily relies on enzyme-catalyzed reactions.

Biotechnology for Agriculture

Biotechnology for agriculture is a powerful tool to increase crop yields and reduce environmental impacts, thus contributing for a more sustainable manufacturing of biorenewables.

Microbial Platforms

Microbial platforms are core components in any biorefinery, driving the conversion of agro-industrial residues into added-value molecules and advanced biofuels. The use of these biological factories can be extended to agriculture and other biotechnological applications such as substituents of chemicals and tailoring microbiomes.

Integrative Omics

Omics approaches along with bioinformatics are workhorses in driving the discovery and redesign of metabolic pathways and novel enzymes aiming industrial applications. It allows to systematically access the genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolic information from single cells to large and complex communities, unleashing the biochemical potential of unculturable microbes to serve as tools in Biotechnology.

Sustainable Chemistry

Conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into biorenewables is done by multi-step pathways integrating physical-chemical and biotechnological processes that jointly define the biorenewable products as well as the competitiveness of the conversion pathway. The principles of sustainable chemistry provide guidelines for choosing the initial process steps aiming at efficient and benign designs for the novel industries of the bioeconomy.