Biocatalysis For Industrial Green Chemistry

Zhi Li, Martin Held, Sven Panke, Andrew Schmid, Renata Mathys, and Bernard Witholt

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland


Biocatalysis can make an important contribution to green chemistry due to several distinctive features, such as mild reaction conditions, nontoxicity, high chemo-, regio-, and stereoselectivity, and high turnover frequency. The potential of biocatalysis for the synthesis of chemicals is evident1-3 and examples of several industrial processes that are operational at BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany), DSM (Geleen, the Netherlands), and Lonza (Visp, Switzerland) have recently been described.4 These industries use enzymes for the production of medium- to high-priced compounds that cannot be produced equally well using chemical approaches.5

The key challenge in the development of a bioprocess is the discovery and development of an appropriate biocatalyst. The discovery of enantioselective bio-catalysts for a given transformation can be achieved by many methods, such as the screening of collections of wild-type microorganisms6 or clonal libraries,7 in vitro evolution,8 and site-directed mutagenesis.9 While the latter requires knowledge of the structure and preferably also of the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme, the first two methods need fast and specific detection systems. In vivo screening of microorganism is often the method of choice for the discovery of cofactor dependent multi-component enzymes. The range of reactions that can be

Methods and Reagents for Green Chemistry: An Introduction, Edited by Pietro Tundo, Alvise Perosa, and Fulvio Zecchini

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

carried out with microorganisms and the range of microorganisms that have already been isolated or remain to be discovered is enormous. As a result, much energy goes into the selection of new enzymatic activities by using natural isolates and/or their mutants.

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