Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Lignin-Specific O-Methyltransferases from Woody Plant Species

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Since lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on earth while not being very useful to humankind, there is interest in minimizing its content in woody tissues, especially those with high commercial value. To achieve this biotechnological end, we need to gain a great deal of understanding of the key enzymes involved, their genes and the regulation of these genes in woody species. Lignin-specific O-methyltransferases (OMTs) are clearly very central to the control of monolignol biosynthesis. This brief review provides a perspective on the history and significance of the OMTs in relation both to their role in monolignol biosynthesis and to their importance in gaining a general understanding of OMTs in higher plants.

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ACS Symposium Series