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Treesearch Insight 2023

11. Microbial cell factories for production of bio-nylon from lignin

Nylon is currently produced primarily from fossil sources. The production relies on energy-demanding processes that release nitrous waste and the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). The areas of application for nylon are numerous and include industries such as textile, automotive and robotics. The aim of this project is to develop a microbial process for the conversion of lignin into nylon with a smaller environmental footprint. Lignin is the major waste product from pulp and paper mills and has large potential to be used to produce important chemicals by microbial processes. To enable production of nylon precursors from lignin, it is depolymerised into monoaromatic compounds that can be catabolised by microorganisms. In our previous work, the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida was engineered to produce muconic acid from depolymerised kraft lignin (Almqvist et al., 2021).

In this project, P. putida is metabolically engineered to produce polyamide precursors carrying the amine moiety. A significant aspect of the project is to improve our understanding of the bacterium’s ability to perform amine forming reactions. We will particularly investigate and develop methods for amination reactions in the organism and expand the toolbox in this area.