Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Biogenetic manipulation of lignin content and/or structure in plants is seen as a route to improving the utilization of plant components, primarily the polysaccharides, in various natural and industrial processes. The aims range from enhancing cell wall digestibility in ruminants to reducing the energy demand and negative environmental impacts of chemical pulping and bleaching (papermaking). The major approach along these lines is to target enzymes of the monolignol biosynthetic pathway, as recently reviewed. Various plants with deficiencies in lignin-biosynthetic-pathway genes (and consequent enzymes for monolignol synthesis) provide insights into the flexibility and dynamics of the lignification process and aid in our understanding of "normal" lignification. The changes observed so far in a variety of mutants and transgenics from various groups have ranged from a simple down regulation of lignification to essentially normal lignification nlevels but with massive compositional shifts. It is anticipated that the flexibility of the lignification process can be exploited to produce plants with lignins that allow more extensive utilization of plant fiber.