Role of Fungi in Biorefinery: A Perspective
Fossil fuels and petroleum that have driven the industrial development in the modern society for the last two centuries are on the verge of decline. The usage of renewable resources and green technologies will ensure the environmental sustainability in the long run. Biorefinery includes sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. The main driver for the establishment of biorefineries is the holistic environmental sustainability. Biorefinery integrates upstream, midstream and downstream processing of biomass into a range of value-added products. Industrially scaled up biorefineries are expected to contribute to an increased competitiveness and wealth of the countries by responding to the need for supplying a wide range of bio-based products and energy in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner in future.
Fungi play an important role in addressing major global challenges. The shift from chemical processes to biological processing achieved by using fungal (and bacterial) enzymes in industries such as textiles, leather, paper and pulp has significantly reduced negative impact on the environment. Filamentous fungi (belonging to the ascomycetes, basidiomycetes and zygomycetes classes) are of great interest as biocatalysts in biorefineries as they naturally produce and secrete a variety of different organic acids that can be used as building blocks in the chemical industry. Fungal endophytes are also the storehouse of naturally occurring bioactive compounds which are not only useful to plants but also to humans. The chapter summarises the current status of work done in the area and the role of fungi/fungal endophytes in helping to resolve some of the problems relating to environment and sustainability. In particular, we examine the role of fungi in new microbial bioprocesses for applications in biorefineries.
KeywordsLignocellulosic biomass Endophytic fungi Lipids Extracellular enzymes Secondary metabolites
Kanika Chowdhary would like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by DST-NPDF scheme (Grant no. PDF/2016/000317) and CRDT, IIT Delhi for providing infrastructural support. Usha Prasad would like to acknowledge the grant of sabbatical leave to her parent institution, Gargi College, University of Delhi.
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