Synthetic Biology of Biomass

Living Things Superlative: Biomass Formation

Biomass, such as wood cell walls, is (1) It is a polymeric solid (2) Synthesized by living organisms The following are some of the characteristics of this type of product. The essence of enzymatic reactions to synthesize water-insoluble macromolecules is the ability to synthesize them in an aqueous solvent without heat or pressure, a very sophisticated process. To elucidate this mechanism, we conduct synthetic biology research using biochemistry of proteins and lipids and macromolecular science.

Do you want to know more? Please enjoy the paper below.

Tomoya Imai,”Cellulose Synthase: A Molecule Machinery for Structural Control of Polymers in Aqueous Solvents at Ambient Temperature and Pressure”
Glycoforum 24(2) A4, 2021

Synthetic Biology of Biomass

We are working to understand the superior properties of biomass structures by mimicking and analyzing cell wall structures using synthetic biology approaches. Here, too, we make full use of biochemistry and macromolecular science.


Hirotaka Tajima, Paavo A. Penttilä, Tomoya Imai, Kyoko Yamamoto, Yoshiaki Yuguchi
Observation of in vitro cellulose synthesis by bacterial cellulose synthase with time-resolved small angle X-ray scattering.
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 130 , 765-777 (2019)

Paavo A. Penttilä, Tomoya Imai, Junji Sugiyama
Fibrillar assembly of bacterial cellulose in the presence of wood-based hemicelluloses.
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 102 , 111-118 (2017)

Shi-jing Sun, HORIKAWA Yoshiki, WADA Masahisa, SUGIYAMA Junji, IMAI Tomoya
Site-directed mutagenesis of bacterial cellulose synthase highlights sulfur–arene interaction as key to catalysis.
Carbohydrate Research 434 , p. 99-106 (2016)

Paavo A. Penttilä, Junji Sugiyama, Tomoya Imai
Effects of reaction conditions on cellulose structures synthesized in vitro by bacterial cellulose synthases, Carbohydrate Polymers, 136, 656-666 (2016)

Imai, T. Sun, S.-J., Horikawa, Y., Wada, M., Sugiyama, J.
Functional Reconstitution of Cellulose Synthase in Escherichia coli, Biomacromolecules, 15, no.11, 4206–4213 (2014)

Hashimoto, A., Shimono, K., Horikawa, Y., Ichikawa, T., Wada, M., Imai, T., Sugiyama, J.
Extraction of cellulose-synthesizing activity of Gluconacetobacter xylinus by alkylmaltoside, Carbohydrate Research, 346, no.17, 2760-2768 (2011)

Biochemistry of Biomass Formation

We also do biochemical analyses for the related proteins to understand biomass formation as the process of proteins, which is important for the synthetic biological approach.


Tatsuya Kondo, Yui Nakamura, Shingo Nojima, Min Yao, Tomoya Imai
The BcsD subunit of type I bacterial cellulose synthase interacts dynamically with the BcsAB catalytic core complex
FEBS Letters, in press
Preprint: bioRxiv, 2022, doi:

Shi-jing Sun, Tomoya Imai, Junji Sugiyama, Satoshi Kimura
CesA protein is included in the terminal complex of Acetobacter.
Cellulose 24 (5) , 2017-2027 (2017)
DOI 10.1007/s10570-017-1237-6

Structure-Property Relationship of Wood

Wood is a natural composite material, and the mechanism for synthesizing a composite that does not undergo component separation at room temperature and pressure is also a very interesting point. For this reason, it is important to accurately understand the nanostructure of wood cell walls. Therefore, we are conducting research to explain the mechanism of physical properties based on the structure.

Synchrotron radiation experiment(BL40B2@SPring-8)

Synchrotron radiation experiment(BL8S3@AichiSR)

Small-angle X-ray scattering image


Hiroaki Horiyama, Keisuke Kojiro, Yoko Okahisa, Tomoya Imai, Takafumi Itoh, Yuzo Furuta
Combined analysis of microstructures within an annual ring of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) by dynamic mechanical analysis and small angle X-ray scattering

Journal of Wood Science 68, Article number: 52 (2022)

Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere
Laboratory of Material Biology

〒611-0011 Gokasho Uji KYOTO
TEL : 0774-38-3634
FAX : 0774-38-3635