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Engineering Plant Cell Walls: Tuning Lignin Monomer Composition for Deconstructable Biofuels Feedstocks or Resilient Biomaterials



Peter Ciesielski, Michael Resch, Barron Hewetson, Jason Killgore, Alexandra Curtin, Nick Anderson, Ann Chiaramonti Debay, Donna C. Hurley, Aric Sanders, Michael Himmel, Clint Chapple, Nathan Mosier, Bryon Donohoe


Advances in genetic manipulation of the biopolymers that compose plant cell walls will facilitate more efficient production of biofuels and chemicals from biomass and lead to specialized biomaterials with tailored properties. Here we investigate several genetic variants of Arabidopsis: the wild type, which makes a lignin polymer of primarily guaiacyl (G) and syringyl (S) monomeric units, the fah1 mutant, which makes lignin from almost exclusively G subunits, and a ferulate 5- hydroxylase (F5H) overexpressing line (C4H:F5H) that makes lignin dominated by S subunits. We employ multiscale, multimodal imaging techniques that reveal the biomass of the C4H:F5H transgenic to be more susceptible to deconstruction by maleic acid pretreatment than the other variants. Enzymatic saccharification assays of the pretreated materials show that C4H:F5H transgenic tissue is significantly more digestible than the wild type, while the fah1 mutant is clearly the least digestible of these materials. Finally, we show by contact resonance force microscopy, an atomic force microscopy technique, that F5H overexpression in C4H:F5H transgenic plants significantly reduces the stiffness of the cell walls in the region of the compound middle lamella relative to wild type and fah1.
Green Chemistry


scanning probe microscopy, electron microscopy, biofuel, energy


Ciesielski, P. , Resch, M. , Hewetson, B. , Killgore, J. , Curtin, A. , Anderson, N. , Chiaramonti Debay, A. , Hurley, D. , Sanders, A. , Himmel, M. , Chapple, C. , Mosier, N. and Donohoe, B. (2014), Engineering Plant Cell Walls: Tuning Lignin Monomer Composition for Deconstructable Biofuels Feedstocks or Resilient Biomaterials, Green Chemistry (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created February 26, 2014, Updated October 12, 2021