Advances in microbial pretreatment for biorefining of perennial grasses

Juliana Vasco-Correa, Ana Zuleta-Correa, Javier Gómez-León, Jaime Andrés Pérez-Taborda

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Abstract: Perennial grasses are potentially abundant sources of biomass for biorefineries, which can produce high yields with low input requirements, and many added environmental benefits. However, perennial grasses are highly recalcitrant to biodegradation and may require pretreatment before undergoing many biorefining pathways. Microbial pretreatment uses the ability of microorganisms or their enzymes to deconstruct plant biomass and enhance its biodegradability. This process can enhance the enzymatic digestibility of perennial grasses, enabling saccharification with cellulolytic enzymes to produce fermentable sugars and derived fermentation products. Similarly, microbial pretreatment can increase the methanation rate when the grasses are used to produce biogas through anaerobic digestion. Microorganisms can also increase the digestibility of the grasses to improve their quality as animal feed, enhance the properties of grass pellets, and improve biomass thermochemical conversion. Metabolites produced by fungi or bacteria during microbial pretreatment, such as ligninolytic and cellulolytic enzymes, can be further recovered as added-value products. Additionally, the action of the microorganisms can release chemicals with commercialization potential, such as hydroxycinnamic acids and oligosaccharides, from the grasses. This review explores the recent advances and remaining challenges in using microbial pretreatment for perennial grasses with the goal of obtaining added-value products through biorefining. It emphasizes recent trends in microbial pretreatment such as the use of microorganisms as part of microbial consortia or in unsterilized systems, the use and development of microorganisms and consortia capable of performing more than one biorefining step, and the use of cell-free systems based on microbial enzymes. Key points: • Microorganisms or enzymes can reduce the recalcitrance of grasses for biorefining • Microbial pretreatment effectiveness depends on the grass-microbe interaction • Microbial pretreatment can generate value added co-products to enhance feasibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5281-5300
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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