Consolidated production of coniferol and other high-value aromatic alcohols directly from lignocellulosic biomass†
Sustainable production of fine chemicals and biofuels from renewable biomass offers a potential alternative to the continued use of finite geological oil reserves. However, in order to compete with current petrochemical refinery processes, alternative biorefinery processes must overcome significant costs and productivity barriers. Herein, we demonstrate the biocatalytic production of the versatile chemical building block, coniferol, for the first time, directly from lignocellulosic biomass. Following the biocatalytic treatment of lignocellulose to release and convert ferulic acid with feruloyl esterase (XynZ), carboxylic acid reductase (CAR) and aldo-keto reductase (AKR), this whole cell catalytic cascade not only achieved equivalent release of ferulic acid from lignocellulose compared to alkaline hydrolysis, but also displayed efficient conversion of ferulic acid to coniferol. This system represents a consolidated biodegradation–biotransformation strategy for the production of high value fine chemicals from waste plant biomass, offering the potential to minimize environmental waste and add value to agro-industrial residues.