2017 journal article
Characterization and enzymatic hydrolysis of wood from transgenic Pinus taeda engineered with syringyl lignin or reduced lignin content
CELLULOSE, 24(4), 1901–1914.
Softwood is an abundant resource; however, currently its utilization for bioconversion to obtain platform sugars is limited. Pinus taeda trees which were genetically modified to either produce S lignin or to decrease lignin content were characterized with a suite of analytic techniques. Syringyl lignin was visualized in the secondary xylem of one genetic line with Mäule staining. Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance identified the S lignin units were coupled into the lignin through β-O-4 linkages, and thioacidolysis measured approximately 13% S lignin content in the same sample. Reductions of the lignin of as much as 33% were observed in the transgenics. To better understand how these modifications affect bioconversion, their amenability to hot water and dilute acid pretreatments and enzymatic hydrolysis was evaluated. Lignin reductions resulted in 1.9–3.2-fold increases in glucose release compared to the control. However, no apparent benefit was observed by S lignin incorporation at the concentrations reported in this study. These results highlight the potential for softwood cell wall properties to be improved for bioenergy/biochemical applications.