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Department of Biological Sciences


Background: Secondary cell wall holds considerable potential as it has gained immense momentum to replace the lignocellulosic feedstock into fuels. Lignin one of the components of secondary cell wall tightly holds the polysaccharides thereby enhancing the recalcitrance and complexity in the biomass. Laccases (LAC) and peroxidases (PRX) are the major phenyl-oxidases playing key functions during the polymerization of monolignols into lignin. Yet, the functions of laccase and peroxidases gene families remained largely unknown. Hence, the objective of this conducted study is to understand the role of specific LAC and PRX in Populus wood formation and to further investigate how the altered Lac and Prx expression affects biomass recalcitrance and plant growth. This study of heterologous expression of Arabidopsis Lac and Prx genes was conducted in poplar to avoid any otherwise occurring co-suppression mechanism during the homologous overexpression of highly expressed native genes. In the pursuit of optimizing lignocellulosic biomass for biofuel production, the present study focuses on harnessing the enzymatic potential of Arabidopsis thaliana Laccase2, Laccase4, and Peroxidase52 through heterologous expression. Results: We overexpressed selected Arabidopsis laccase2 (AtLac2), laccase4 (AtLac4), and peroxidase52 (AtPrx52) genes, based on their high transcript expression respective to the differentiating xylem tissues in the stem, in hybrid poplar (cv. 717) expressed under the developing xylem tissue-specific promoter, DX15 characterized the transgenic populus for the investigation of growth phenotypes and recalcitrance efficiency. Bioinformatics analyses conducted on AtLac2 and AtLac4 and AtPrx52, revealed the evolutionary relationship between the laccase gene and peroxidase gene homologs, respectively. Transgenic poplar plant lines overexpressing the AtLac2 gene (AtLac2-OE) showed an increase in plant height without a change in biomass yield as compared to the controls; whereas, AtLac4-OE and AtPrx52-OE transgenic lines did not show any such observable growth phenotypes compared to their respective controls. The changes in the levels of lignin content and S/G ratios in the transgenic poplar resulted in a significant increase in the saccharification efficiency as compared to the control plants. Conclusions: Overall, saccharification efficiency was increased by 35–50%, 21–42%, and 8–39% in AtLac2-OE, AtLac4-OE, and AtPrx52-OE transgenic poplar lines, respectively, as compared to their controls. Moreover, the bioengineered plants maintained normal growth and development, underscoring the feasibility of this approach for biomass improvement without compromising overall plant fitness. This study also sheds light on the potential of exploiting regulatory elements of DX15 to drive targeted expression of lignin-modifying enzymes, thereby providing a promising avenue for tailoring biomass for improved biofuel production. These findings contribute to the growing body of knowledge in synthetic biology and plant biotechnology, offering a sustainable solution to address the challenges associated with lignocellulosic biomass recalcitrance.

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Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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