University of Delaware OEIP
University of Delaware

Biosynthesis of Aromatic Amines from Monolignols[Plant Matter]

Technology #ud20-13

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This new technology pertains to a unique process that enables the synthesis of Aromatic Amines and non-standard Amino Acids (nsAAs) from monolignols [products from the depolymerization of lignin]. The Aromatic Amines can be used as monomers in polymer production, while the nsAAs can be used in peptide and protein production.


No technology exists that can utilize lignin effectively, making this potentially viable technology a new focus in biosynthesis. This technology allows for production of aromatic amines and amino acids from breakdown products of lignin. University of Delaware researchers enabled four facets that led to this breakthrough. Firstly, an engineered bacteria strain enabled the accumulation of aldehyde intermediates. Secondly, two enzymes were used to act on the lignin-derived substrates to obtain amines. Thirdly, innovations in catalysis, polymer science, and biology were able to come together to enable this technology.


· Breakthrough technology in plant matter

· Plant matter conversion process to potential polymer and protein end products achieved

· Biocatalysis achieves chemical transformations that are synthetically challenging 

· Specifically bioengineered bacteria strain for this conversion made effective


This early stage invention is a biosynthetic route to convert key monolignols obtained from catalytic depolymerization of lignin. This process converts monolignols to aromatic amines that can serve as monomers for polymer production or to non-standard amino acids that serve as useful building blocks for proteins.


The technology is patent pending. Further information on licensing opportunities is available on request.