German- South African research network on bioeconomy

Application of data mining and protein design for novel biocatalytic reactions

In the framework of the German- South African research network in the thematic area "Bioeconomy: using renewable resources for industry", we participate in two research projects:

Enzyme engineering of the "small laccase" for the synthesis of antioxidants and surface functionalisation

(in collaboration with Prof. Tukayi Kudanga, Durban University of Technology)

Because of the increasing incidence of diseases caused by oxidative stress, antioxidants have gained considerable interest for prevention and treatment skin cancer and potentially other non-communicable diseases. In this project, natural phenolic antioxidants will be synthesized using a bacterial enzyme.The small laccase (SLAC) is a robust enzyme with high catalytic activity. Protein design will be applied to improve its properties for applications such as synthesis of antioxidants and surface functionalization.


Synergistic degradation of lignocellulose by using expansions and enzymes

(In collaboration with Dr. Marilize Le Roes-Hill, Cape Peninsula University of Cape Town, Prof. Volker Sieber, TU München, and Michael Richter, Fraunhofer IGB Straubing)

The digestion of lignocellulose is an important field in the field of biorefinery and the use of renewable raw materials. Novel proteins (expansins) are to be discovered, characterised and made accessible for use in the digestion of lignocellulose and other areas. The project develops a new toolbox of expansins, which facilitates the degradation of lignocellulose-containing biomass by becoming molecular synergisms.

This research project is funded by BMBF


  1. Lohoff, C., Buchholz, P., Le, R.-H. M., & Pleiss, J. (2020). The Expansin Engineering Database: a navigation and classification tool for expansins and homologues. Proteins, 89, 149–162.
  2. Gräff, M., Buchholz, P., Le Roes-Hill, M., & Pleiss, J. (2020). Multicopper oxidases: modular structure, sequence space and evolutionary relationships. Proteins.
  3. Prins, A., Kleinsmidt, L., Khan, N., Kirby, B., Kudanga, T., Vollmer, J., Pleiss, J., Burton, S., & Le, R.-H. M. (2015). The effect of mutations near the T1 copper site on the biochemical characteristics of the small laccase from Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Enzyme Microb Technol, 68, 23–32.

Project Members

This image shows Patrick Buchholz

Patrick Buchholz


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