Biosynthetic Conversion of Lignin Waste to High-Value Bioproducts

Technical Summary

Dr. Jixun Zhan of the Biological Engineering department at Utah State University has established a library of biosynthetic bricks from plant, bacterial, and fungal sources that can be combined to produce a variety of plant natural products using lignin as a feedstock.1 Lignin is one of the three major components of lignocellulosic biomass. While the other two components, cellulose and hemicellulose, are commonly used for the production of biofuels such as ethanol, lignin is often treated as low-value waste and burned as fuel, leaving behind environmentally harmful aromatics. Lignin can now be converted into high-value bioproducts by engineered microorganisms using this biosynthetic approach.

Commercial Applications

•  This technology will help to reduce waste by using lignin as the feedstock for engineered microorganisms and create high-value products.

•  Potential commercial partners:

•  Pharmaceutical

•  Nutraceutical

•  Nutritional supplement

•  Food

•  Biofuel

•  Paper-making

Competitive Advantages

•  Easy manipulation of biosynthetic brick combinations to produce desired bioproducts

•  Cheaper feedstock than alternative technologies


Additional Information


1.       Wang, S. Y.; Zhang, S. W.; Xiao, A. F.; Rasmussen, M.; Skidmore, C.; Zhan, J. X., Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the biosynthesis of various phenylpropanoid derivatives. Metabolic Engineering 2015, 29, 153-159.



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Christian Iverson
Utah State University
Jixun Zhan
Agricultural Biotechnology metabolic engineering