Dr Glyn Hemsworth

Industrial biotechnology is one of the most promising approaches to reducing pollution, conserving resources and reducing the costs incurred during the manufacture of many of the chemical precursors and fuels upon which we rely. This approach aims to utilize enzymes or microorganisms to generate new bio-based products from renewable raw materials. A major challenge for research in this context is to unlock the sugars contained in plant cell walls to be utilized for biofuels and other high value chemical precursor manufacture. Research in Dr Hemsworth’s laboratory seeks to combine approaches from bioinformatics, structural biology, enzymology, and enzyme engineering to probe and exploit natural electron transport processes to activate a recently identified family of enzymes known as Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenases (LPMOs). These copper dependent oxidases have emerged as key players in both the natural and applied breakdown of biomass. Understanding how LPMOs are activated will, therefore, be key to optimizing the efficiency of enzymatic biomass conversion and maximizing the lifetime of the reaction mixtures used in these processes.