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Crop Biotech Update

Metabolic Engineering of 2-Phenylethanol Pathway Produces Fragrance Chemical and Reduces Lignin Content in Arabidopsis

June 24, 2015

Lignin is a biopolymer with various agro-industrial uses. However, lignin in cell walls impedes biofuel production from plant biomass. The phenylpropanoid pathway is responsible for lignin synthesis and other phenolic metabolites.

One of the metabolites produced is 2-phenylethanol, a known fragrance chemical and an intermediate in lignin synthesis. Guang Qi, Chunxiang Fu and Gongke Zhou, all from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, conferred two 2-phenylethanol biosynthetic pathways of plants and Saccharomyces cerevisiae into Arabidopsis.

As anticipated, the fragrance chemical  2-phenylethanol accumulated in the transgenic plants. The transgenics also exhibited reduced lignin content. The glucose yield from cell wall hydrolysis were also higher in transgenic plants compared to wild types.

Read the full article on Plant Cell Reports.