Directed evolution: Selecting today's biocatalysts

Linda G. Otten, Wim J. Quax

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Directed evolution has become a full-grown tool in molecular biology nowadays. The methods that are involved in creating a mutant library are extensive and can be divided into several categories according to their basic ideas. Furthermore, both screening and selection can be used to target the enzyme towards the desired direction. Nowadays, this technique is broadly used in two major applications: (industrial) biocatalysis and research. In the first field enzymes are engineered in order to produce suitable biocatalysts with high catalytic activity and stability in an industrial environment. In the latter area methods are established to quickly engineer new enzymes for every possible catalytic step, thereby creating a universal biotechnological toolbox. Furthermore, directed evolution can be used to try to understand the natural evolutionary processes. This review deals with new mutagenesis and recombination strategies published recently. A full overview of new methods for creating more specialised mutant libraries is given. The importance of selection in directed evolution strategies is being exemplified by some current successes including the β-lactam acylases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalBiomolecular Engineering
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Directed evolution
  • Mutagenesis
  • New methods
  • Recombination
  • Selection


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