2010-4-20 Session on Lignin modification in Panicum virgatum L. by Fu, Mielenz, Xiao, Hamilton, Chen, Bouton, Dixon, and Wang

The 2:00 session on Tuesday (2010-4-20) was on lignin modification in order to increase ethanol production efficiency in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). The rationale for researching lignin was that lignin is a structural and physical barrier to polysaccharide degradation and they looked at switchgrass because it is a native species that would not harm biodiversity. Fu, Mielenz, Xiao, Hamilton, Chen, Bouton, Dixon, and Wang used transgenic methods to modify the biosynthesis of lignin and, by this, increase the bioconversion properties in switchgrass. They isolated the primary genes involved with lignin production (using PCR) and found that down regulation of a particular gene resulted in decreased lignin content. This, in turn, improved sugar recovery. They found that a lower S/G ratio was linked with carbohydrate conversion efficiency.

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