REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS
Location: Dairy Forage and Aquaculture Research
Title: Identifying New Lignin Bioengineering Targets: Monolignol Substitute Impacts on Lignin Formation and Cell Wall Utilization
Submitted to: Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 7, 2009
Publication Date: April 19, 2010
Citation: Grabber, J.H., Ralph, J., Pan, X. 2010. Identifying New Lignin Bioengineering Targets: Monolignol Substitute Impacts on Lignin Formation and Cell Wall Utilization [abstract]. In: Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Symposium Proceedings. Abstract 2-05. p. 44.
Recent discoveries highlighting the metabolic malleability of plant lignification indicate that lignin can be engineered to dramatically alter its composition and properties. Current plant engineering efforts are primarily aimed at manipulating the biosynthesis of normal monolignols, but in the future apoplastic targeting of phenolics from other metabolic pathways may provide new approaches for designing lignins that are less inhibitory toward polysaccharide fermentation, both with and without biomass pretreatment. To help identify promising new avenues for lignin bioengineering, we are artificially lignifying cell walls from maize cell suspensions with various combinations of normal monolignols (coniferyl and sinapyl alcohols) plus a variety of phenolics (hydroxycinnamate-monolignol esters, hydroxycinnamate-quinic acid esters, diferuloylated compounds, phenylpropanoids, phenolic glucosides, flavonoids, etc) synthesized in the laboratory. Our initial work demonstrated that copolymerzation of coniferyl ferulate with monolignols dramatically improved the alkaline extractability of lignin and the enzymatic hydrolysis of cell walls. In more recent studies, inclusion of feruloylquinic or caffeoylquinic acids with monolignols considerably depressed lignin formation and strikingly improved cell wall fermentability by anaerobic rumen microflora. In contrast, various phenylpropanoids, catechins, and ferulate polyol esters readily formed copolymer-lignins with normal monolignols; cell wall fermentability was often moderately enhanced by greater hydroxylation or 1,2-diol substitution of monolignol substitutes. In ongoing work, we are characterizing the enzymatic saccharification of intact and chemically pretreated cell walls lignified by these and other monolignol substitutes. These and subsequent studies will identify promising bioengineering targets for improving plant fiber utilization in natural and industrial processes.