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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover Potential New Pathway for Plant-Based Bioproducts

May 11, 2016

Researchers at the University of North Texas (UNT) have discovered a potential new pathway for the creation of plant-based bioproducts. The team looked into the roles of enzymes that convert amino acids into lignin in Brachypodium, a fast-growing model grass with a sequenced genome. Lignin is a substance that makes plants woody and firm, and, although it is an impediment to the processing of feedstocks for biofuels, it can be used to create a variety of bioproducts, including materials such as carbon fiber.

"As we studied the way different amino acids are converted to lignin, we found that there may be a new and unrecognized pathway for making lignin in grasses," said UNT Distinguished Research Professor Richard Dixon. "A new pathway means potential for engineering more lignin in plants that don't possess that pathway, as well as an additional way of modifying lignin in grasses. This provides new opportunities for the synthesis of high value, high volume bioproducts that could significantly improve the economics of the bioenergy industry."

More details are available at the UNT website.