Conference Post #1: Awesome dude from Copenhagen

Conferences such as the 32nd Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals are meant to broaden the horizons of young minds, allow for networking, and give experienced scientists and chance to present their data. All three of these goals were realized in the first session that I attended, in one of the first talks I heard, given by doctor from the University of Copenhagen entitled, “The significance of supramolecular structures of cellulose for the enzymatic hydrolysis of plant cell walls.” This presentation focused on the anomaly of “dislocations” found on plant fibers. These dislocations were proven to contain 50% more enzymes than other regions of the plant, and these higher concentrations of enzymes disappeared when tensile strength was applied (the video of this was SO COOL!!). When these fibers were hydrolyzed for 24 hours with free-fall mixing, their dimensions changed: the total length was shortened, but the width remained constant, indicating that the fibers were lysed (presumably) at the site of the dislocations. This was a very exciting discovery because being able to take advantage of these structurally different locations means that it might be possible to allow enzymes to more quickly degrade the plant matter, through an increase in surface area. This totally awesome dude from Copenhagen proceeded to attend EVERY session and ask tons of thoughtful, insightful questions. He also had a totally rockin’ pool look.


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