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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326260

Title: Monolignol ferulate conjugates are naturally incorporated into plant lignins

item KARLEN, STEVEN - University Of Wisconsin
item ZHANG, CHENGCHENG - University Of Oklahoma
item PECK, MATTHEW - University Of Oklahoma
item SMITH, REBECCA - University Of Wisconsin
item PADMAKSHAN, DHARSHANA - University Of Wisconsin
item HELMICH, KATE - University Of Wisconsin
item FREE, HEATHER C - University Of Auckland
item LEE, SEONGHEE - Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc
item SMITH, BRONWEN - University Of Auckland
item LU, FACHUANG - University Of Wisconsin
item SEDBROOK, JOHN - Illinois State University
item SIBOUT, RICHARD - Inra, Génétique Animale Et Biologie Intégrative , Jouy-En-josas, France
item Grabber, John
item RUNGE, TROY - University Of Wisconsin
item MYSORE, KIRANKUMAR - Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc
item HARRIS, PHILIP - University Of Auckland
item BARTLEY, LAURA - University Of Oklahoma
item RALPH, JOHN - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Science Advances
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2016
Publication Date: 10/14/2016
Citation: Karlen, S.D., Zhang, C., Peck, M.L., Smith, R.A., Padmakshan, D., Helmich, K.E., Free, H.A., Lee, S., Smith, B.G., Lu, F., Sedbrook, J.C., Sibout, R., Grabber, J.H., Runge, T.M., Mysore, K.S., Harris, P.J., Bartley, L.E., Ralph, J. 2016. Monolignol ferulate conjugates are naturally incorporated into plant lignins. Science Advances. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600393.

Interpretive Summary: Research into the conversion of plants to liquid fuels and coproducts has focused primarily on flowering plants, like grasses and trees. Lignin is about 18-30% of their biomass and is essential to the plant but limits our access to fibers and chemical energy stored in plant cell walls. Recently, the chemical composition of lignin in poplar trees was engineered so that mild chemical treatment could deconstruct the lignin. Here, we report the discovery that the chemical composition of the engineered lignin is native to many, but not all, of the flowering plants. This information is useful to scientists researching ways to significantly reduce the costs and improve the energy balance of converting biomass to liquid fuels, cellulose pulps, and other value-added products.

Technical Abstract: Angiosperms represent the majority of terrestrial plants and are the primary research focus for conversion of biomass to liquid fuels and coproducts. Lignin limits our access to fibers and represents a large fraction of the chemical energy stored in plant cell walls. Recently, the incorporation of monolignol ferulates into lignin polymer was accomplished via engineering of an exotic transferase into commercially relevant poplar. Herein, we report that various angiosperm species might have convergently evolved to natively produce lignins that incorporate monolignol ferulate conjugates. We show that this activity may be accomplished by a BAHD feruloyl-CoA:monolignol transferase, OsFMT1 (AT5) in rice and its orthologs in other monocots.