Lignocellulose deconstruction in the biosphere

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2017 Dec:41:61-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2017.10.013. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Microorganisms have evolved different and yet complementary mechanisms to degrade biomass in the biosphere. The chemical biology of lignocellulose deconstruction is a complex and intricate process that appears to vary in response to specific ecosystems. These microorganisms rely on simple to complex arrangements of glycoside hydrolases to conduct most of these polysaccharide depolymerization reactions and also, as discovered more recently, oxidative mechanisms via lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases or non-enzymatic Fenton reactions which are used to enhance deconstruction. It is now clear that these deconstruction mechanisms are often more efficient in the presence of the microorganisms. In general, a major fraction of the total plant biomass deconstruction in the biosphere results from the action of various microorganisms, primarily aerobic bacteria and fungi, as well as a variety of anaerobic bacteria. Beyond carbon recycling, specialized microorganisms interact with plants to manage nitrogen in the biosphere. Understanding the interplay between these organisms within or across ecosystems is crucial to further our grasp of chemical recycling in the biosphere and also enables optimization of the burgeoning plant-based bioeconomy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / microbiology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lignin / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plant Cells / metabolism


  • lignocellulose
  • Lignin