The pulp and paper industry could potentially offer many opportunities for synthetic biology. Current pulping methods create side streams that are mainly burnt in the mill. However, exploring how these could be turned into high value products is of increasing interest.
The largest underutilized sidestream of pulping is hemicellulose. Around 15% of the dry content of wood is made from these c5 and c6 sugars.
These sugars can be fed to microbes to produce plastic precursors, food additives and various chemicals. In a previously published study Merja Penttiläs group was able to turn the black C5 slurry into pure xylitol using modified yeast strains.
This video is part of the Synbio Powerhouse annual seminar : Why the Bioeconomy needs Synthetic Biology.