UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Tailoring renewable materials via plant biotechnology de Vries, Lisanne; Guevara-Rozo, Sydne; Cho, MiJung; Liu, Li-Yang; Renneckar, Scott; Mansfield, Shawn D., 1969-


Plants inherently display a rich diversity in cell wall chemistry, as they synthesize an array of polysaccharides along with lignin, a polyphenolic that can vary dramatically in subunit composition and interunit linkage complexity. These same cell wall chemical constituents play essential roles in our society, having been isolated by a variety of evolving industrial processes and employed in the production of an array of commodity products to which humans are reliant. However, these polymers are inherently synthesized and intricately packaged into complex structures that facilitate plant survival and adaptation to local biogeoclimatic regions and stresses, not for ease of deconstruction and commercial product development. Herein, we describe evolving techniques and strategies for altering the metabolic pathways related to plant cell wall biosynthesis, and highlight the resulting impact on chemistry, architecture, and polymer interactions. Furthermore, this review illustrates how these unique targeted cell wall modifications could significantly extend the number, diversity, and value of products generated in existing and emerging biorefineries. These modifications can further target the ability for processing of engineered wood into advanced high performance materials. In doing so, we attempt to illuminate the complex connection on how polymer chemistry and structure can be tailored to advance renewable material applications, using all the chemical constituents of plant-derived biopolymers, including pectins, hemicelluloses, cellulose, and lignins.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)