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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development and application of a rapid micro-scale method of lignin content determination in Arabidopsis thaliana accessions Chang, Xue Feng


Lignin is a major chemical component of plants and the second most abundant natural polymer after cellulose. The concerns and interests of agriculture and industry have stimulated the study of genes governing lignin content in plants in an effort to adapt plants to human purposes. Arabidopsis thaliana provides a convenient model for the study of the genes governing lignin content because of its short growth cycle, small plant size, and small completely sequenced genome. In order to identify the genes controlling lignin content in Arabidopsis accessions using Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysis, a rapid micro-scale method of lignin determination is required. The acetyl bromide method has been modified to enable the rapid micro-scale determination of lignin content in Arabidopsis. Modifications included the use of a micro-ball mill, adoption of a modified rapid method of extraction, use of an ice-bath to stabilize solutions and reduction in solution volumes. The modified method was shown to be accurate and precise with values in agreement with those determined by the conventional method. The extinction coefficient for Arabidopsis lignin, dissolved using acetyl bromide, was determined to be 23.35 g-iLcm-1. This value is independent of the Arabidopsis accession, environmental growth conditions and is insensitive to syringyl/guaiacyl ratio. The modified acetyl bromide method was shown to be well correlated with the 72% sulfuric acid method once the latter had been corrected for protein contamination and acid-soluble lignin content (R² = 0.988, P < 0.0001). As determined by the newly developed acetyl bromide method and confirmed by the sulfuric acid method, lignin content in Arabidopsis was found to be a divergent property. Lignin content in Arabidopsis was found to be weekly correlated with growth rate among Arabidopsis accessions (R² = 0.48, P = 0.011). Lignin content was also found to be correlated with plant height among Arabidopsis accessions (R² = 0.491, P < 0.0001).

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