P0745 Silencing of 4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase in switchgrass leads to reduced lignin content and improved fermentable sugar yields for biofuel production

Bin Xu , Virginia Tech
Luis L. Escamilla-Treviņo , Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh , Virginia Tech
Zhengxing Shen , Virginia Tech
Hui Shen , Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Percival Y-H. Zhang , Virginia Tech
Richard A. Dixon , Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Bingyu Zhao , Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
The lignin content of feedstock has been proposed as one key agronomic trait impacting biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass. 4-Coumarate:coenzyme A ligase (4CL) is one of the key enzymes involved in the monolignol biosynthethic pathway. Two homologous 4CL genes, Pv4CL1 and Pv4CL2, were identified in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) through phylogenetic analysis. Gene expression patterns and enzymatic activity assays suggested that Pv4CL1 is involved in monolignol biosynthesis. Stable transgenic plants were obtained with Pv4CL1 down-regulated. RNA interference of Pv4CL1 reduced extractable 4CL activity by 80%, leading to a reduction in lignin content with decreased guaiacyl unit composition. Altered lignification patterns in the stems of RNAi transgenic plants were observed with phloroglucinol-HCl staining. The transgenic plants also had uncompromised biomass yields. After dilute acid pretreatment, the low lignin transgenic biomass had significantly increased cellulose hydrolysis (saccharification) efficiency.The results demonstrate that Pv4CL1, but not Pv4CL2, is the key 4CL isozyme involved in lignin biosynthesis, and reducing lignin content in switchgrass biomass by silencing Pv4CL1 can remarkably increase the efficiency of fermentable sugar release for biofuel production.