Biotech Updates

Plant-based Enzyme for the EU Industry

January 27, 2016

A new hydroxynitrile lyase (HNL) enzyme was isolated from a simple white rabbit's foot fern plant, which was found to be highly suitable for industrial application. The discovery was conducted by EU-based partners Kyrobio and the Austrian Research Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB) through various biotech tools.  In nature, HNL is used by ferns and other related plants such as stone fruit and almond trees to release molecularly stored hydrogen cyanide for protection against pests.

It was found that HNL has no sequence similarity with any previously known HNL and that its enantiomer (mirror image molecule) is able to bind cyanide to different molecules that can be used in a number of industrial practices. This includes recycling of cyanide wastes generated during the production of acrylonitrile -  a compound used in adhesives and textile manufacturing. The industry also gains valuable building blocks for pharmaceutical agents from the enzyme.

For details of the story, visit the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) website.