Larsbrink Group

The research performed in this group mainly focus on enzyme discovery coupled to detailed biochemical characterization, which means finding and describing novel enzymes, enzyme activities and/or families. 

We use various -omics techniques and protein structure predictions to identify enzymes of interest from different types of microorganisms.

Additionally, we regularly use protein X-ray crystallography to experimentally solve the three-dimensional structures of enzymes and other proteins, and also perform genetic modifications of carbohydrate-metabolizing bacteria to improve conversion of plant biomass into useful compounds.

Of special interest are:

Glucuronoyl esterases (GEs) and lignin-carbohydrate complexes.

In lignocellulose, polysaccharides are covalently connected to lignin, which is a major factor in the cell walls’ recalcitrance towards degradation. GEs are enzymes able to cleave the ester bonds found between xylan and lignin and can greatly improve overall cell wall hydrolysis, both natural and industrial. We continuously characterize GEs from various microorganisms, to better understand both their biochemical properties and structure-function relationships.

Biological conversion of unconventional biomass.

Many ‘waste’ products are formed in industry but could be better utilized by biochemical means. We aim to discover new microbial species and enzymes that can deconstruct or modify materials such as tree bark, which has a high content of non-carbohydrate-based molecules collectively known as extractives. We also study various microbial polymers, i.e. those formed by bacteria and fungi, to find enzymes that could be of use in more medical settings.

Study and modification of anaerobic bacteria

Species in the human gut have evolved efficient enzymatic systems to compete for available nutrients such as dietary fiber, and we study various aspects of these organisms. This includes growth studies, characterization of individual enzymes, and we also perform genetic modifications to better understand and steer their metabolism of simple or more complex carbohydrates.


Group members


  • Nathan Porter (postdoc 2018-2022)
  • Cornelia Wennerberg Kristoffersson (master student 2022)
  • Daniel Krska (PhD student 2017-2021)
  • Cathleen Kmezik (PhD student 2017-2021)
  • Marcel Taillefer (postdoc 2016-2020)
  • Leona Carla Cesar (master student 2020)
  • Tomke Meents (master student 2019)
  • Andrea Seveso (master student 2017)