Research Projects: Dr. Wensheng Qin
Current Research Areas:
Bioconversion of Agricultural and Forestry Lignocellulosic
Biomass and Characterization of Biomass Derived Value-added Chemicals,
Biofuels, and Bioproducts.
Development of Technology for Large Scale Production of Bioconversion and Biorefining Enzymes (Cellulases, Hemicellulases and Ligninases,
Development of Bacterial and Fungal Strains for Animal Feed Fermentation and
Characterization and Genetic Engineering of Bacterial and Fungal Strains for
Production of Industrial Enzymes (Amylase, Laccase, Mannanase, Phytase, Pullulanase, Xylanase,
Production of Biofuels (biodiesel, lipids) and
Nutrients from Algae & Algal and Microbial Cleaning of Organic, Municipal,
and Mining Wastewater.
 Microbial Degradation of Toxic Compounds
in Industrial and Municipal Wastes and Bioremediation of Industrial Wastes
Polluted Water and Soils.
Extraction of Bioactive Substances from Natural
Biomass (Medicinal Plants) and Production of Medical Proteins, Antibodies and
Vaccines in Genetically Modified Bioreactors.
 Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
Main Current Projects:
 Microbial Engineering for Large-scale Cellulase Production.
in biofuel and bioenergy is becoming more and more important, the two
bottleneck problems in biofuel production are biomass quality (mainly enzyme
accessibility to cellulose) and enzyme production cost (mainly cellulases). Our research is targeting to engineer
efficient cellulase-producing strains of Trichoderma
reesei and Clostridium thermocellum.
Exotic cellulase genes will be introduced into Trichoderma reesei and Clostridium
thermocellum and high yielding stable
strains will be selected and tested for fermentation conditions. The developed
technology will be applied in cellulase industrial production.
 Bioconversion of
Agricultural and Forest Biomass and Pulp/Paper Mill Sludge to Valuable
Bioproducts and/or Biofuels.
engineered high yielding Trichoderma reesei and Clostridium thermocellum strains will be used to convert the forest
biomass and biomass in pulp/paper mill sludge to bioproducts and biofuels such
as methane and bioethanol. The project is collaborated with pulp/paper mills.
 Construction of
"Super" Microorganisms for High Efficient Conversion of Biomass to
Produce Value-added Bioproducts and Biofuels.
On the earth, the most abundant source of carbon is plant biomass,
mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Several bacteria were
tested for their ability to degrade lignin, their biodegradation was poor. Many
fungi are able to degrade cellulose and hemicellulose and utilize them as
carbon and energy sources. However, much fewer filamentous fungi have the
ability to breakdown lignin. White rot fungi possess the unique ability to
efficiently degrade lignin to CO2 and gain access to the carbohydrate polymers
of plant cell walls for use as carbon and energy sources. These wood-decay
fungi are common inhabitants of forest litter and fallen trees. The most widely
studied white rot fungus is Phanerochaete chrysosporium, a member of Homobasidiomycetes.
The enzymes secreted by white rot fungi can catalyze the initial depolymerization of lignin, which are extracellular and
unusually nonspecific. Oxidases, peroxidases, and hydrogen peroxide are
responsible for generating highly reactive free radicals, but no one enzyme has
been identified for specifically cleavage of methoxyl
group from lignin. Laccase is likely another important enzyme involved in
lignin degradation, but not all wood-decay fungi have this enzyme. The
nonspecific nature and extraordinary oxidation potential of these enzymes have
attracted considerable attention for industrial applications such as biopulping, fibre bleaching, and remediation of organopollutants such as pesticides, polyaromatic
hydrocarbons, certain textile dyes, and other environmentally detrimental
chemicals such as azide, carbon tetrachloride, and
Although P. chrysosporium secretes those lignin-degrading enzymes, their yield, activity and stability can't meet our needs. Our project is to genetically modify this microorganism for producing a combination of "super" enzymes which are necessary for high efficiently degrading lignin. Foreign lignin-degrading enzyme genes will be selected and transformed into P. chrysosporium by electroporation or other chemical methods to construct "super" microorganisms. Meanwhile, some endogenous genes in P. chrysosporium will be knocked out and make P. chrysosporium less sensitive to harsh growth conditions such as pH value fluctuation and end product inhibition. We have another ongoing project Microbial Engineering for Large-scale Production of Cellulases and Hemicellulases to degrade Cellulose and Hemicellulose. Our long-term goal is to develop a powerful microorganism system which can simultaneously secrete Cellulase, Hemicellulase, and Lignase for high efficient conversion of biomass (Cellulose, Hemicellulose, Lignin) to produce value-added bioproducts and biofuels such as bioethanol.
Extraction of Bioactive Substances from Natural Biomass and Production of
Medical Proteins, Antibodies and Vaccines in Genetically Modified Bioreactors.
Currently, through international collaborations, we are using mushrooms as bioreactors for medical protein production.
 Microbial Degradation of Toxic Compounds in Industrial and Municipal Wastes and Bioremediation of Industrial Wastes Polluted Water and Soils.
For more information about Lakehead University and our research, please visit the Lakehead University Website and the Available Positions in our lab.