Emma Master



St. George (downtown)

CSB Appointment


Research Areas

Biotechnology, Chemical Biology, Genetics / Genomics, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Proteomics


2002: Ph.D. Environmental Biochemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
1995: B.Sc (Honours) Microbiology & Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Primary Undergraduate Department

Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry

Graduate Programs

Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, Cells and Systems Biology

Academic or Administrative Appointments

Associate Chair Research (CHE), Associate Director of BioZone

Research Description

Our goal is to discover, design and produce biocatalysts that tailor the chemical and physical functionality of major renewable bioresources (e.g., cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, chitin) for their broader use in value-added materials.

Our focus on biocatalysts that upgrade, rather than degrade, major bioresources provide biomanufacturing technologies that generate bio-based materials with high atom efficiency and potential to reduce reliance on petrochemicals.

Our approach benefits from three key advantages of biocatalyts: 1) catalytic specificity that allows predictable modification of complex substrates, 2) mild and waster-based reaction requirements that retain beneficial structural properties of the starting material, and 3) exquisite ability to create new biocatalyst designs through protein modelling and engineering, expanding their potential in synthetic applications.

Contact Information

Office Phone: 416-946-7861
Office: WB420C
Lab: BioZone Centre for Applied Bioscience and Bioengineering

Mailing Address

Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
University of Toronto
200 College St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3E5

Visit lab’s website



Xylan glucuronic acid side chains fix suberin‐like aliphatic compounds to wood cell walls

Derba‐Maceluch M, Mitra M, Hedenström M, Liu X, Gandla ML, Barbut FR, Abreu IN, Donev EN, Urbancsok J, Moritz T, Jönsson LJ, Tsang A, Powlowski J, Master ER, Mellerowicz EJ
2023, New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.18712

Loosenin-Like Proteins from Phanerochaete carnosa Impact Both Cellulose and Chitin Fiber Networks

Monschein M, Ioannou E, Koitto T, Al Amin LAKM, Varis JJ, Wagner ER, Mikkonen KS, Cosgrove DJ, Master ER, Nygård Y
2023, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 10.1128/aem.01863-22

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Characterization of a novel AA3_1 xylooligosaccharide dehydrogenase from Thermothelomyces myriococcoides CBS 398.93.

Zhao H, Karppi J, Nguyen TTM, Bellemare A, Tsang A, Master E, Tenkanen M
2022, Biotechnology for biofuels and bioproducts, 15, 135, 36476312

From acetone fractionation to lignin-based phenolic and polyurethane resins

Arefmanesh M, Nikafshar S, Master ER, Nejad M
2022, Industrial Crops and Products, 10.1016/j.indcrop.2022.114604

Proteome of the Wood Decay Fungus Fomitopsis pinicola Is Altered by Substrate

Sabat G, Ahrendt S, Wu B, Gaskell J, Held BW, Toapanta C, Vuong TV, Lipzen A, Zhang J, Schilling JS, Master E, Grigoriev IV, Blanchette RA, Hibbett DS, Bhatnagar J, Cullen D, Rokas A
2022, Microbiology Resource Announcements, 10.1128/mra.00586-22

Enzymatic upgrading of heteroxylans for added-value chemicals and polymers

Vuong TV, Master ER
2022, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 10.1016/j.copbio.2021.07.001

Elucidating Sequence and Structural Determinants of Carbohydrate Esterases for Complete Deacetylation of Substituted Xylans

Penttinen L, Kouhi V, Fauré R, Skarina T, Stogios P, Master E, Jurak E
2022, Molecules, 10.3390/molecules27092655

PACER: a novel 3D plant cell wall model for the analysis of non-catalytic and enzymatic responses

Monschein M, Jurak E, Paasela T, Koitto T, Lambauer V, Pavicic M, Enjalbert T, Dumon C, Master ER
2022, Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts, 10.1186/s13068-022-02128-8

Enzymatic synthesis of kraft lignin-acrylate copolymers using an alkaline tolerant laccase

Arefmanesh M, Vuong TV, Nikafshar S, Wallmo H, Nejad M, Master ER
2022, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 10.1007/s00253-022-11916-z

An SCPPPQ1/LAM332 protein complex enhances the adhesion and migration of oral epithelial cells: Implications for dentogingival regeneration

Nouri S, Holcroft J, Caruso L, Vuong TV, Simmons CA, Master ER, Ganss B
2022, Acta Biomaterialia, 10.1016/j.actbio.2022.05.035

Chitin-Active Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenases Are Rare in Cellulomonas Species

Li J, Goddard-Borger ED, Raji O, Saxena H, Solhi L, Mathieu Y, Master ER, Wakarchuk WW, Brumer H, Kelly RM
2022, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 10.1128/aem.00968-22

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The coordinated action of glucuronoyl esterase and α‐glucuronidase promotes the disassembly of lignin–carbohydrate complexes

Raji O, Arnling Bååth J, Vuong TV, Larsbrink J, Olsson L, Master ER
2021, FEBS Letters, 10.1002/1873-3468.14019

Could open science stimulate industry partnerships in chemical engineering university research?

Hart K, An S, Edwards AM, Mahadevan R, Master ER, Edwards EA
2021, The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 10.1002/cjce.24077

Structural characterization of the family GH115 α-glucuronidase from Amphibacillus xylanus yields insight into its coordinated action with α-arabinofuranosidases

Yan R, Wang W, Vuong TV, Xiu Y, Skarina T, Di Leo R, Gatenholm P, Toriz G, Tenkanen M, Stogios PJ, Master ER
2021, New Biotechnology, 10.1016/j.nbt.2021.01.005

Discovery of fungal oligosaccharide-oxidising flavo-enzymes with previously unknown substrates, redox-activity profiles and interplay with LPMOs

Haddad Momeni M, Fredslund F, Bissaro B, Raji O, Vuong TV, Meier S, Nielsen TS, Lombard V, Guigliarelli B, Biaso F, Haon M, Grisel S, Henrissat B, Welner DH, Master ER, Berrin J, Abou Hachem M
2021, Nature Communications, 10.1038/s41467-021-22372-0

Polysaccharide utilization loci-driven enzyme discovery reveals BD-FAE: a bifunctional feruloyl and acetyl xylan esterase active on complex natural xylans

Hameleers L, Penttinen L, Ikonen M, Jaillot L, Fauré R, Terrapon N, Deuss PJ, Hakulinen N, Master ER, Jurak E
2021, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10.1186/s13068-021-01976-0

The Comparative Abilities of a Small Laccase and a Dye-Decoloring Peroxidase From the Same Bacterium to Transform Natural and Technical Lignins

Vuong TV, Singh R, Eltis LD, Master ER
2021, Frontiers in Microbiology, 10.3389/fmicb.2021.723524

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Enzymatic production of 4–methyl d-glucaric acid from hardwood xylan.

Vuong TV, Master ER
2020, Biotechnology for biofuels, 13, 51, 32190116

Atypical lignification in eastern leatherwood (Dirca palustris)

Mottiar Y, Gierlinger N, Jeremic D, Master ER, Mansfield SD
2020, New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.16394

Quantitative Comparison of Pyranose Dehydrogenase Action on Diverse Xylooligosaccharides

Karppi J, Zhao H, Chong S, Koistinen AE, Tenkanen M, Master E
2020, Frontiers in Chemistry, 10.3389/fchem.2020.00011

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Biocatalytic Production of Amino Carbohydrates through Oxidoreductase and Transaminase Cascades

Aumala V, Mollerup F, Jurak E, Blume F, Karppi J, Koistinen AE, Schuiten E, Voß M, Bornscheuer U, Deska J, Master ER
2019, ChemSusChem, 10.1002/cssc.201802580

RETRACTED ARTICLE: Evolution of substrate-specific gene expression and RNA editing in brown rot wood-decaying fungi

Wu B, Gaskell J, Zhang J, Toapanta C, Ahrendt S, Grigoriev IV, Blanchette RA, Schilling JS, Master E, Cullen D, Hibbett DS
2019, The ISME Journal, 10.1038/s41396-019-0359-2

Kinetics and regioselectivity of three GH62 α-L-arabinofuranosidases from plant pathogenic fungi

Sarch C, Suzuki H, Master ER, Wang W
2019, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects, 10.1016/j.bbagen.2019.03.020

A family AA5_2 carbohydrate oxidase from Penicillium rubens displays functional overlap across the AA5 family

Berrin J, Mollerup F, Aumala V, Parikka K, Mathieu Y, Brumer H, Tenkanen M, Master E
2019, PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0216546

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Chemo-enzymatic Synthesis of Clickable Xylo-oligosaccharide Monomers from Hardwood 4-O-Methylglucuronoxylan

MacCormick B, Vuong TV, Master ER
2018, Biomacromolecules, 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01642

Direct analysis by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry reveals action of bacterial laccase-mediator systems on both hardwood and softwood samples

Goacher RE, Braham EJ, Michienzi CL, Flick RM, Yakunin AF, Master ER
2018, Physiologia Plantarum, 10.1111/ppl.12688

Pichia pastoris is a Suitable Host for the Heterologous Expression of Predicted Class I and Class II Hydrophobins for Discovery, Study, and Application in Biotechnology

Gandier J, Master E
2018, Microorganisms, 10.3390/microorganisms6010003

A novel acetyl xylan esterase enabling complete deacetylation of substituted xylans

Razeq FM, Jurak E, Stogios PJ, Yan R, Tenkanen M, Kabel MA, Wang W, Master ER
2018, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10.1186/s13068-018-1074-3

Substrate-Specific Differential Gene Expression and RNA Editing in the Brown Rot Fungus Fomitopsis pinicola

Wu B, Gaskell J, Held BW, Toapanta C, Vuong T, Ahrendt S, Lipzen A, Zhang J, Schilling JS, Master E, Grigoriev IV, Blanchette RA, Cullen D, Hibbett DS, Kivisaar M
2018, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 10.1128/AEM.00991-18

Analysis of the substrate specificity of α-L-arabinofuranosidases by DNA sequencer-aided fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis

Maurício da Fonseca MJ, Jurak E, Kataja K, Master ER, Berrin J, Stals I, Desmet T, Van Landschoot A, Briers Y
2018, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 10.1007/s00253-018-9389-3

Dynamics of the Phanerochaete carnosa transcriptome during growth on aspen and spruce

Jurak E, Suzuki H, van Erven G, Gandier JA, Wong P, Chan K, Ho CY, Gong Y, Tillier E, Rosso M, Kabel MA, Miyauchi S, Master ER
2018, BMC Genomics, 10.1186/s12864-018-5210-z

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Microplate-Based Detection of Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenase Activity by Fluorescence-Labeling of Insoluble Oxidized Products

Vuong TV, Liu B, Sandgren M, Master ER
2017, Biomacromolecules, 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b01790

Transgenic expression of fungal accessory hemicellulases in Arabidopsis thaliana triggers transcriptional patterns related to biotic stress and defense response

Zabotina OA, Tsai AY, Chan K, Ho C, Canam T, Capron R, Master ER, Bräutigam K
2017, PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0173094

Characterization of a Basidiomycota hydrophobin reveals the structural basis for a high-similarity Class I subdivision

Gandier J, Langelaan DN, Won A, O’Donnell K, Grondin JL, Spencer HL, Wong P, Tillier E, Yip C, Smith SP, Master ER
2017, Scientific Reports, 10.1038/srep45863

Enzymatically Debranched Xylans in Graft Copolymerization

Littunen K, Mai-Gisondi G, Seppälä J, Master ER
2017, Biomacromolecules, 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00229

Functional comparison of versatile carbohydrate esterases from families CE1, CE6 and CE16 on acetyl-4-O-methylglucuronoxylan and acetyl-galactoglucomannan

Mai-Gisondi G, Maaheimo H, Chong S, Hinz S, Tenkanen M, Master E
2017, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects, 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.06.002

Draft genome sequence of a monokaryotic model brown-rot fungus Postia (Rhodonia) placenta SB12

Gaskell J, Kersten P, Larrondo LF, Canessa P, Martinez D, Hibbett D, Schmoll M, Kubicek CP, Martinez AT, Yadav J, Master E, Magnuson JK, Yaver D, Berka R, Lail K, Chen C, LaButti K, Nolan M, Lipzen A, Aerts A, Riley R, Barry K, Henrissat B, Blanchette R, Grigoriev IV, Cullen D
2017, Genomics Data, 10.1016/j.gdata.2017.08.003

Action of a GH115 α-glucuronidase from Amphibacillus xylanus at alkaline condition promotes release of 4- O -methylglucopyranosyluronic acid from glucuronoxylan and arabinoglucuronoxylan

Yan R, Vuong TV, Wang W, Master ER
2017, Enzyme and Microbial Technology, 10.1016/j.enzmictec.2017.05.004

A Novel Colletotrichum graminicola Raffinose Oxidase in the AA5 Family

Andberg M, Mollerup F, Parikka K, Koutaniemi S, Boer H, Juvonen M, Master E, Tenkanen M, Kruus K, Cullen D
2017, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 10.1128/AEM.01383-17

Replacing 100% of phenol in phenolic adhesive formulations with lignin

Kalami S, Arefmanesh M, Master E, Nejad M
2017, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 10.1002/app.45124

Comparative Metagenomics of Cellulose- and Poplar Hydrolysate-Degrading Microcosms from Gut Microflora of the Canadian Beaver (Castor canadensis) and North American Moose (Alces americanus) after Long-Term Enrichment

Wong MT, Wang W, Couturier M, Razeq FM, Lombard V, Lapebie P, Edwards EA, Terrapon N, Henrissat B, Master ER
2017, Frontiers in Microbiology, 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02504

Constructing arabinofuranosidases for dual arabinoxylan debranching activity

Wang W, Andric N, Sarch C, Silva BT, Tenkanen M, Master ER
2017, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 10.1002/bit.26445

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Expression of a fungal glucuronoyl esterase in Populus: Effects on wood properties and saccharification efficiency

Latha Gandla M, Derba-Maceluch M, Liu X, Gerber L, Master ER, Mellerowicz EJ, Jönsson LJ
2014, Phytochemistry, 24997793

Sequence diversity and gene expression analyses of expansin-related proteins in the white-rot basidiomycete, Phanerochaete carnosa

Suzuki H, Vuong TV, Gong Y, Chan K, Ho CY, Master ER, Kondo A
2014, Fungal genetics and biology : FG & B, 24880035

Elucidation of the Molecular Basis for Arabinoxylan-Debranching Activity of a Thermostable Family GH62 α-l-Arabinofuranosidase from Streptomyces thermoviolaceus

Wang W, Mai-Gisondi G, Stogios PJ, Kaur A, Xu X, Cui H, Turunen O, Savchenko A, Master ER
2014, Applied and environmental microbiology, 80, 5317-29, 24951792

The impact of alkali pretreatment and post-pretreatment conditioning on the surface properties of rice straw affecting cellulose accessibility to cellulases

Karuna N, Zhang L, Walton JH, Couturier M, Oztop MH, Master ER, McCarthy MJ, Jeoh T
2014, Bioresource technology, 167, 232-40, 24983695

Fusion of a xylan-binding module to gluco-oligosaccharide oxidase increases activity and promotes stable immobilization

Vuong TV, Master ER
2014, PloS one, 9, e95170, 24736604

Advancing lignocellulose bioconversion through direct assessment of enzyme action on insoluble substrates

Goacher RE, Selig MJ, Master ER
2014, Current opinion in biotechnology, 27, 123-33, 24525082

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Xylo- and cello-oligosaccharide oxidation by gluco-oligosaccharide oxidase from Sarocladium strictum and variants with reduced substrate inhibition

Vuong TV, Vesterinen AH, Foumani M, Juvonen M, Seppälä J, Tenkanen M, Master ER
2013, Biotechnology for biofuels, 6, 148, 24119501

Towards practical time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry lignocellulolytic enzyme assays

Goacher RE, Tsai AY, Master ER
2013, Biotechnology for biofuels, 6, 132, 24034438

Biochemical studies of the multicopper oxidase (small laccase) from Streptomyces coelicolor using bioactive phytochemicals and site-directed mutagenesis

Sherif M, Waung D, Korbeci B, Mavisakalyan V, Flick R, Brown G, Abou-Zaid M, Yakunin AF, Master ER
2013, Microbial biotechnology, 6, 588-97, 23815400

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Comparative genomics of the white-rot fungi, Phanerochaete carnosa and P. chrysosporium, to elucidate the genetic basis of the distinct wood types they colonize

Suzuki H, MacDonald J, Syed K, Salamov A, Hori C, Aerts A, Henrissat B, Wiebenga A, VanKuyk PA, Barry K, Lindquist E, LaButti K, Lapidus A, Lucas S, Coutinho P, Gong Y, Samejima M, Mahadevan R, Abou-Zaid M, de Vries RP, Igarashi K, Yadav JS, Grigoriev IV, Master ER
2012, BMC genomics, 13, 444, 22937793

Constitutive expression of a fungal glucuronoyl esterase in Arabidopsis reveals altered cell wall composition and structure

Tsai AY, Canam T, Gorzsás A, Mellerowicz EJ, Campbell MM, Master ER
2012, Plant biotechnology journal, 10, 1077-87, 22924998

Mode of coniferous wood decay by the white rot fungus Phanerochaete carnosa as elucidated by FTIR and ToF-SIMS

Mahajan S, Jeremic D, Goacher RE, Master ER
2012, Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 94, 1303-11, 22290642

Application of time-of-flight-secondary ion mass spectrometry for the detection of enzyme activity on solid wood substrates

Goacher RE, Edwards EA, Yakunin AF, Mims CA, Master ER
2012, Analytical chemistry, 84, 4443-51, 22507179

Expression and regulation of genes encoding lignocellulose-degrading activity in the genus Phanerochaete

MacDonald J, Suzuki H, Master ER
2012, Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 94, 339-51, 22391967

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Time-dependent profiles of transcripts encoding lignocellulose-modifying enzymes of the white rot fungus Phanerochaete carnosa grown on multiple wood substrates

Macdonald J, Master ER
2012, Applied and environmental microbiology, 78, 1596-600, 22210217

Altered substrate specificity of the gluco-oligosaccharide oxidase from Acremonium strictum

Foumani M, Vuong TV, Master ER
2011, Biotechnology and bioengineering, 108, 2261-9, 21455933

Transcriptomic responses of the softwood-degrading white-rot fungus Phanerochaete carnosa during growth on coniferous and deciduous wood

MacDonald J, Doering M, Canam T, Gong Y, Guttman DS, Campbell MM, Master ER
2011, Applied and environmental microbiology, 77, 3211-8, 21441342

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Expanding the library of secondary ions that distinguish lignin and polysaccharides in time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis of wood

Goacher RE, Jeremic D, Master ER
2011, Analytical chemistry, 83, 804-12, 21190327

Mining bacterial genomes for novel arylesterase activity

Wang L, Mavisakalyan V, Tillier ER, Clark GW, Savchenko AV, Yakunin AF, Master ER
2010, Microbial biotechnology, 3, 677-90, 21255363

Proteomic characterization of lignocellulose-degrading enzymes secreted by Phanerochaete carnosa grown on spruce and microcrystalline cellulose

Mahajan S, Master ER
2010, Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 86, 1903-14, 20306191

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KORRIGAN1 and its aspen homolog PttCel9A1 decrease cellulose crystallinity in Arabidopsis stems

Takahashi J, Rudsander UJ, Hedenström M, Banasiak A, Harholt J, Amelot N, Immerzeel P, Ryden P, Endo S, Ibatullin FM, Brumer H, del Campillo E, Master ER, Scheller HV, Sundberg B, Teeri TT, Mellerowicz EJ
2009, Plant & cell physiology, 50, 1099-115, 19398462

Substrate recognition and hydrolysis by a fungal xyloglucan-specific family 12 hydrolase

Powlowski J, Mahajan S, Schapira M, Master ER
2009, Carbohydrate research, 344, 1175-9, 19433323

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Biphenyl dioxygenase from an arctic isolate is not cold adapted

Master ER, Agar NY, Gómez-Gil L, Powlowski JB, Mohn WW, Eltis LD
2008, Applied and environmental microbiology, 74, 3908-11, 18424535

Comparative NMR analysis of cellooligosaccharide hydrolysis by GH9 bacterial and plant endo-1,4-beta-glucanases

Rudsander UJ, Sandstrom C, Piens K, Master ER, Wilson DB, Brumer Iii H, Kenne L, Teeri TT
2008, Biochemistry, 47, 5235-41, 18402467

A xyloglucan-specific family 12 glycosyl hydrolase from Aspergillus niger: recombinant expression, purification and characterization

Master ER, Zheng Y, Storms R, Tsang A, Powlowski J
2008, The Biochemical journal, 411, 161-70, 18072936

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Biphenyl uptake by psychrotolerant Pseudomonas sp. strain Cam-1 and mesophilic Burkholderia sp. strain LB400

Master ER, McKinlay JJ, Stewart GR, Mohn WW
2005, Canadian journal of microbiology, 51, 399-404, 16088335

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Recombinant expression and enzymatic characterization of PttCel9A, a KOR homologue from Populus tremula x tremuloides

Master ER, Rudsander UJ, Zhou W, Henriksson H, Divne C, Denman S, Wilson DB, Teeri TT
2004, Biochemistry, 43, 10080-9, 15287736

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N-linked glycosylation of native and recombinant cauliflower xyloglucan endotransglycosylase 16A

Henriksson H, Denman SE, Campuzano ID, Ademark P, Master ER, Teeri TT, Brumer H
2003, The Biochemical journal, 375, 61-73, 12826015

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Sequential anaerobic-aerobic treatment of soil contaminated with weathered Aroclor 1260

Master ER, Lai VW, Kuipers B, Cullen WR, Mohn WW
2002, Environmental science & technology, 36, 100-3, 11817368

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