Developments in biocatalysis have been largely fuelled by consumer demands for new products, industrial attempts to improving existing process and minimizing waste, coupled with governmental measures to regulate consumer safety along with scientific advancements. One of the major hurdles to application of biocatalysis to chemical synthesis is unavailability of the desired enzyme to catalyse the reaction to allow for a viable process development. Even when the desired enzyme is available it often forces the process engineers to alter process parameters due to inadequacies of the enzyme, such as instability, inhibition, low yield or selectivity, etc. Developments in the field of enzyme or reaction engineering have allowed access to means to achieve the ends, such as directed evolution, de novo protein design, use of non-conventional media, using new substrates for old enzymes, active-site imprinting, altering temperature, etc. Utilization of enzyme discovery and improvement tools therefore provides a feasible means to overcome this problem. Judicious employment of these tools has resulted in significant advancements that have leveraged the research from laboratory to market thus impacting economic growth; however, there are further opportunities that have not yet been explored. The present review attempts to highlight some of these achievements and potential opportunities.
© 2011 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology © 2011 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.