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How sweet it is – making the most of carbohydrate metabolism Mansfield, Shawn Sep 13, 2011

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INVITED SPEAKER PRESENTATION Open AccessHow sweet it is – making the most ofcarbohydrate metabolismShawn MansfieldFrom IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference 2011: From Genomes to Integration and DeliveryArraial d’Ajuda, Bahia, Brazil. 26 June - 2 July 2011Like all plants, trees constantly monitor endogenous andenvironmental cues, and use this information to makeadjustments in resource allocation, both to maximizeresource acquisition and to minimize exposure to dele-terious phenomena. To accomplish this, trees possessmechanisms that integrate and interpret the informationprovided by internal and environmental signals. Ulti-mately, these phenomena are controlled at the level ofgene expression, which consequently translates into theaccumulation of a variety of soluble metabolites, includ-ing carbohydrates. Trees are relatively “plastic” in theirability to allocate resources, and such plasticity has anadaptive significance in that it allows trees to (i) matchresource allocation with resource acquisition, (ii) acquirenew resources more effectively, and in some instances(iii) avoid adverse conditions. The inherent plasticity inresource acquisition can have a profound effect not onlyon the development and physiology of trees, but also onthe industrial harvesting and utilization of the terminallignocellulosic resource.Photosynthetic carbon capture by trees represents amajor sink for atmospheric CO2, ultimately terminatingin the synthesis of a secondary plant cell wall – a com-plex matrix of polysaccharides intricately linked to lig-nin. Therefore, engineering plant where resourceallocation is directed to vegetative biomass and fibreproperties should have an effect on the plant cell walltraits. As such we have targeted the biosynthetic pro-cesses governing sucrose metabolism by mis-regulationof key enzymes associated with the catabolism and ana-bolism of sucrose in attempts cellulose production –both quantity and quality. This paper will discuss theresults of these efforts, and illustrate the altered perfor-mance of such plants for industrial use.Published: 13 September 2011doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S7-I16Cite this article as: Mansfield: How sweet it is – making the most ofcarbohydrate metabolism. BMC Proceedings 2011 5(Suppl 7):I16.Submit your next manuscript to BioMed Centraland take full advantage of: • Convenient online submission• Thorough peer review• No space constraints or color figure charges• Immediate publication on acceptance• Inclusion in PubMed, CAS, Scopus and Google Scholar• Research which is freely available for redistributionSubmit your manuscript at www.biomedcentral.com/submitCorrespondence: shawn.mansfield@ubc.caDepartment of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,CanadaMansfield BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 7):I16http://www.biomedcentral.com/1753-6561/5/S7/I16© 2011 Mansfield; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative CommonsAttribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction inany medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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