Skip to main content


Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship for Chemistry

Understanding the new oxidative paradigm of biomass waste upcycling – LyticPol

By Lilian Skytte, , 9/8/2023

Theoretical chemist at Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy Erna Wieduwilt has been awarded with a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship. She will be in charge of the LiticPol project aiming to optimize the production of biofuel.

As the EU is committed to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent, fossil fuels need to be replaced by sustainable alternatives. A potential alternative is the upcycling of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels. However, the cost-efficient generation of biofuel from cellulose is considerably hindered by the recalcitrance of the cellulose biopolymer. In 2010, the discovery of a new family of copper-dependent metalloenzymes called lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) spurred great hopes as LPMOs were shown to significantly boost the degradation of cellulose and other polysaccharides. Today, eight families of LPMOs have been classified with remarkably diverse substrate specificities and regioselectivities. Furthermore, the metal active sites are in rather different surroundings. Despite combined efforts from experimental and theoretical sides, the reaction mechanism of LPMOs has remained elusive.

The “LyticPol” project suggests that previous theoretical studies lacked general conclusions because they (i) considered too few LPMO families and (ii) employed insufficient theoretical methods for the enzyme environment. The “LyticPol” project aims at elucidating the reaction mechanism of LPMOs, by using a novel theoretical method on a large set of representative LPMO structures. From knowing the mechanism, the reaction conditions of LPMOs can be fine-tuned and the full industrial potential can be reached. This is expected to have substantial economic and social impact. Hence, the results of the “LyticPol” project will be communicated not only to scientific experts but also to the general public.

Erna Wieduwilt

Erna is educated at University of Bremen in Germany, and she was then in France doing her PhD at University of Lorraine in Metz. Erna started her first postdoc at SDU in April 2022 with Erik Donovan Hedegård as a supervisor.

Research profile