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Research Report A leading global R&D planning and evaluation institute for technological innovation in food, agriculture and forestry

LAST UPDATE : 2016-01-01

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Subject Discovering how to reduce lignin biosynthesis without compromising the fitness..
Date 2017-02-01 16:14:08 Hit 1478
Contents Title : Discovering how to reduce lignin biosynthesis without compromising the fitness of plants

The sustainable production of quality biomass is essential in biofuel economy. However, the
lignins consisting of approximately 30% of conventional biomass hinders availability of biomass
for bioenergy production. Lignins are hard to degrade, so it takes complicated chemical
processing including toxic compounds. If not alleviated, biomass-derived bioenergy ironically
cause environmental burden. Thus, reducing the overall contents and complexity of lignins has
been the subjects of research world wide. It is noteworthy that lignins are important
components for plants, so simple drastic reduction of their contents cause plants not growing
adequately. A strategy to reduce non-degradable lignin contents without compromising plant
fitness is required. To address this, we first aimed to understand how the lignin genes are
regulated. We performed Affymetrix microarray analysis using the RNAs isolated from four
different plant seedlings including Ws-2 wild type, bri1-5, phyB-77, and bri1-5 phyB-77
double mutants. Bioinformatics analysis of the gene expression revealed that the expression of
peroxidase (PRX) genes, which might be involved in lignin contents, are inhibited by
brassinosteroids but stimulated by the light. To genetically prove this idea that PRX regulate
lignin contents, we introduced these genes using RNA interference constructs into both
Arabidopsis and poplar. Successful transgenic lines of Arabidopsis displayed the phenotypes of
weak stem, resulting in falling down on the grounds. This phenotype suggests that the
robustness of plants normally attributable to proper contents of the cell wall was significantly
altered. In addition, the transgenic RNAi lines flowered earlier than their parental wild type
possibly due to faster-growing pattern. Taken together, the major cell wall modifying enzymes
have been identified through our comprehensive analysis of the transcriptomes. Our molecular
genetic analysis of these genes strongly suggest that plant cell wall contents especially the
lignins can be engineered using these genes. Throughout the period of this project, we have
identified the new genes possibly playing important roles in cell wall biology, and revealed
that the known brassinosteroid genes including DWF4 and BIN2 successfully altered the
contents of lignin in poplar plants.



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