Biological valorization of low molecular weight lignin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Lignin is a major component of lignocellulosic biomass and as such, it is processed in enormous amounts in the pulp and paper industry worldwide. In such industry it mainly serves the purpose of a fuel to provide process steam and electricity, and to a minor extent to provide low grade heat for external purposes. Also from other biorefinery concepts, including 2nd generation ethanol, increasing amounts of lignin will be generated. Other uses for lignin – apart from fuel production – are of increasing interest not least in these new biorefinery concepts. These new uses can broadly be divided into application of the polymer as such, native or modified, or the use of lignin as a feedstock for the production of chemicals. The present review focuses on the latter and in particular the advances in the biological routes for chemicals production from lignin. Such a biological route will likely involve an initial depolymerization, which is followed by biological conversion of the obtained smaller lignin fragments. The conversion can be either a short catalytic conversion into desired chemicals, or a longer metabolic conversion. In this review, we give a brief summary of sources of lignin, methods of depolymerization, biological pathways for conversion of the lignin monomers and the analytical tools necessary for characterizing and evaluating key lignin attributes.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemicals
  • Analytical Chemistry


  • Lignin, Lignocellulose, Biorefinery, Depolymerization, Catalysis, Aromatic metabolism, Biochemical conversion, Chromatography, Mass spectrometry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318–1346
Number of pages29
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 6
Publication categoryResearch

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