Automated Filter Paper Assay for Determination of Cellulase Activity

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80 Scopus Citations


Recent developments in molecular breeding and directed evolution have promised great developments in industrial enzymes as demonstrated by exponential improvements in β-lactamase and green fluorescent protein (GFP). Detection of and screening for improved enzymes are relatively easy if the target enzyme is expressible in a suitable high-throughput screening host and a clearly defined and usable screen or selection is available, as with GFP and β-lactamase. Fungal cellulases, however, are difficult to measure and have limited expressibility in heterologous hosts. Furthermore, traditional cellulase assays are tedious and time-consuming. Multiple enzyme components, an insoluble substrate, and generally slow reaction rates have plagued cellulase researchers interested in creating cellulase mixtures with increased activities and/or enhanced biochemical properties. Although the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists standard measure of cellulase activity, the filter paper assay (FPA), can be reproduced in most laboratories with some effort, this method has long been recognized for its complexity and susceptibility to operator error. Our current automated FPA method is based on a Cyberlabs C400 robotics deck equipped with customized incubation, reagent storage, and plate-reading capabilities that allow rapid evaluation of cellulases acting on cellulose and has a maximum throughput of 84 enzyme samples per day when performing the automated FPA.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)689-703
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Part A Enzyme Engineering and Biotechnology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Posted with permission

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-34418


  • Cellulase
  • Cellulose
  • Filter paper assay
  • Filter paper unit
  • Trichoderma reesei


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