Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modified Lignin Has Potential Benefits For Ethanol, Paper And Feed

Date:
January 8, 2009
Source:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Summary:
Cellulose is a key component of plant cell walls that can be converted into ethanol and other products. New findings could help make that conversion process easier.

Agronomist John Grabber and technician Christy Davidson artificially lignify cell walls isolated from corn cell cultures to study how changes in lignin composition or structure influence cell-wall digestibility.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Ausmus

Cellulose is a key component of plant cell walls that can be converted into ethanol and other products. New findings from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) could help make that conversion process easier.

Plant walls contain cellulose, the main component of paper and a source of sugars for ethanol production. Cellulose could be described as the "brick" of the cell wall, while pectin, hemicellulose and lignin function like mortar, cementing everything together.

Lignin is vital for plant survival, but its structure impedes cellulose conversion. But what if lignin were altered so that it would break down easier, thus facilitating the production of paper, ethanol and other industrial products?

That's the goal of ARS scientists at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis. There, research agronomist John Grabber--working with ARS plant physiologist Ronald Hatfield, Fachuang Lu of the University of Wisconsin, and John Ralph, formerly with ARS and now at the University of Wisconsin--has designed lignin that breaks down more easily.

Grabber and his colleagues first tested the effects of changing the cell walls in a laboratory--before applying those changes to live plants--by incorporating a chemical compound called coniferyl ferulate into lignin formed within cell walls. First, they synthesized the compound in the lab and added it to cell walls isolated from corn. Then they subjected the cell walls to alkaline treatments, which are commonly used to degrade lignin.

The altered lignin broke down more readily than conventional lignin under mild alkaline conditions, demonstrating the potential for this modification to facilitate cellulose use.

Further research showed that incorporating other molecules such as feruloyl and caffeoylquinic acid into lignin could also enhance cellulose utilization. Hatfield, Ralph and ARS geneticist Jane Marita at Madison are now leading efforts to engineer plants to make lignin with coniferyl ferulate.

This work has potential benefits not just for paper and ethanol production, but also for livestock production. Modified lignin could make fibrous crops more digestible, allowing producers to feed more forage crops and less grain to their livestock.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Modified Lignin Has Potential Benefits For Ethanol, Paper And Feed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193833.htm>.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2009, January 8). Modified Lignin Has Potential Benefits For Ethanol, Paper And Feed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193833.htm
U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Modified Lignin Has Potential Benefits For Ethanol, Paper And Feed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193833.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins