Research Lines

  • Enzymatic reactor for micropollutants oxidation

­ The first works in this topic were the selection and optimization of white-rot fungi for degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In parallel, diverse studies on the production of extracellular peroxidases were performed (manganese and versatile peroxidases). These peroxidases were applied for the degradation of several organic compounds: PAHs, pesticides, industrial dyes, etc. Another application was the biobleaching of Kraft pulp by enzymes. Nowadays, we have focused on the design and modelling of enzymatic reactors for the removal of PAHs and microcontaminants (essentially PPCPs and EDCs).

  • Biomass pretreatment and production of biofuels

– Fungal pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass for producing bioethanol
– ­Use of ligninolytic enzymes and novel cellulases in the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass.
– Implementing an extractive fermentation system for producing butanol (ABE fermentation).

  • Biopolymers (polyhydroxyalkanoates, PHA) from renewable resources

We are evaluating the integration of the production of PHA into 1G and 2G biorefineries. The production of PHA together with other bioproducts, such as biofuels and high-added value products would increase the economics and productivity of the biorefinery. For this purpose, we have evaluated the production of PHA from biological pretreated wheat straw and stillages coming from cereal-based ethanol plants using the halophilic bacteria Halomonas boliviensis. We have found that Halomonas is a versatile microorganism that is able to produce high PHA content from various carbon sources including volatile fatty acids, mono and disaccharides, starch and cellulose hydrolysates).

  • Production of added-value products by enzymatic transformation of natural extracts

The enzymatic polymerization of flavonoids by laccases or peroxidases has been reported to be an efficient method to enhance physiological properties, such as antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity, and a relatively longer circulation time in vivo. We are focusing our attention on the oxidative oligomerization of flavonoids glycosides (e.g. rutin, esculin) extracted from raw plant material by oxidative enzymes (laccases and peroxidases).

Current Projects

  • Integral technology for the production of high added value oligomers from natural flavonoids (INTECOL) (01.10.2015-30.09.2018) (CTQ2014-58879-JIN) IP: Gemma Eibes Gonzalez, 169 000 €.
  • Enzymes for 2G Sugars (2GEnzymes) (01.11.2015-31.10.2018) (PCIN-2015-031) IP: Gemma Eibes Gonzalez, 147 000 €
  • Enzyme-Magnetic Nanoparticle Reactor for the advanced oxidation of micropollutants in wastewaters (ENTIRE) (01.01.2014-31.12.2016) (CTQ2013-44762-R) IP Maria teresa Moreira, 279 510 €
  • Consolidación e estructuración. (GRC) GI-1613 Ingeniería Ambiental. (/08/2013 – 31/12/2016). Consellería de Educación – Programa xeral de consolidación e estruturación do sistema galego de I+D+i (GRC2013-032) IP: Juan Manuel Lema Rodicio     Dotación: 370.000€

Principales Indicadores (2005-2015)  

  • Publicaciones de investigación SCI: 37
  • Índice H: 12
  • Citación SCOPUS: 440 total citations
  • Libros:
  • Capítulos de libros: 3
  • Publicaciones de investigación sin índice de impacto: 4
  • Participación internacional (congresos, ponencias): 36 contributions to international conferences
  • Patentes: 2

Relevant Publications   

García-Torreiro M, Lu-Chau TA, Lema JM. “Effect of nitrogen and/or oxygen concentration on poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) accumulation by Halomonas boliviensis”. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering. (2016) 39, 1365-1374.

García-Torreiro M, López-Abelairas M, Lu-Chau TA, Lema JM. “Fungal pretreatment of agricultural residues for bioethanol production”. Industrial Crops and Products. (2016) 89,486-492.

López-Abelairas M, García-Torreiro M, Lu-Chau TA, Lema JM, Steinbüchel A. “Comparison of several methods for the separation of poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) from Cupriavidus necator H16 cultures”. Biochemical Engineering Journal. (2015) 93, 250-259.

González-Peñas H, Lu-Chau TA, Moreira MT, Lema JM. “Solvent screening methodology for in situ ABE extractive fermentation”. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. (2015) 98, 13, 5915-5924.

Taboada-Puig R, Lu-Chau TA, Eibes G, Moreira MT, Feijoo G, Lema JM. “Biocatalytic generation of Mn(III)-chelate as a chemical oxidant of different environmental contaminants”. Biotechnology Progress. (2011) 27, 3, 668-676.

Salvachúa D, Prieto A, López-Abelairas M, Lu-Chau TA, Martínez AT, Martínez MJ. “Fungal pretreatment: An alternative in second-generation ethanol from wheat straw”. Bioresource Technology. (2011) 102,16, :7500-7506.