Brassinosteroid overproduction improves lignocellulose quantity and quality to maximize bioethanol yield under green-like biomass process in transgenic poplar.
ABSTRACT: Background:As a leading biomass feedstock, poplar plants provide enormous lignocellulose resource convertible for biofuels and bio-chemicals. However, lignocellulose recalcitrance particularly in wood plants, basically causes a costly bioethanol production unacceptable for commercial marketing with potential secondary pollution to the environment. Therefore, it becomes important to reduce lignocellulose recalcitrance by genetic modification of plant cell walls, and meanwhile to establish advanced biomass process technology in woody plants. Brassinosteroids, plant-specific steroid hormones, are considered to participate in plant growth and development for biomass production, but little has been reported about brassinosteroids roles in plant cell wall assembly and modification. In this study, we generated transgenic poplar plant that overexpressed DEETIOLATED2 gene for brassinosteroids overproduction. We then detected cell wall feature alteration and examined biomass enzymatic saccharification for bioethanol production under various chemical pretreatments. Results:Compared with wild type, the PtoDET2 overexpressed transgenic plants contained much higher brassinosteroids levels. The transgenic poplar also exhibited significantly enhanced plant growth rate and biomass yield by increasing xylem development and cell wall polymer deposition. Meanwhile, the transgenic plants showed significantly improved lignocellulose features such as reduced cellulose crystalline index and degree of polymerization values and decreased hemicellulose xylose/arabinose ratio for raised biomass porosity and accessibility, which led to integrated enhancement on biomass enzymatic saccharification and bioethanol yield under various chemical pretreatments. In contrast, the CRISPR/Cas9-generated mutation of PtoDET2 showed significantly lower brassinosteroids level for reduced biomass saccharification and bioethanol yield, compared to the wild type. Notably, the optimal green-like pretreatment could even achieve the highest bioethanol yield by effective lignin extraction in the transgenic plant. Hence, this study proposed a mechanistic model elucidating how brassinosteroid regulates cell wall modification for reduced lignocellulose recalcitrance and increased biomass porosity and accessibility for high bioethanol production. Conclusions:This study has demonstrated a powerful strategy to enhance cellulosic bioethanol production by regulating brassinosteroid biosynthesis for reducing lignocellulose recalcitrance in the transgenic poplar plants. It has also provided a green-like process for biomass pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification in poplar and beyond.
Project description:Background:Genetic modification of plant cell walls has been implemented to reduce lignocellulosic recalcitrance for biofuel production. Plant glycoside hydrolase family 9 (GH9) comprises endo-?-1,4-glucanase in plants. Few studies have examined the roles of GH9 in cell wall modification. In this study, we independently overexpressed two genes from GH9B subclasses (OsGH9B1 and OsGH9B3) and examined cell wall features and biomass saccharification in transgenic rice plants. Results:Compared with the wild type (WT, Nipponbare), the OsGH9B1 and OsGH9B3 transgenic rice plants, respectively, contained much higher OsGH9B1 and OsGH9B3 protein levels and both proteins were observed in situ with nonspecific distribution in the plant cells. The transgenic lines exhibited significantly increased cellulase activity in vitro than the WT. The OsGH9B1 and OsGH9B3 transgenic plants showed a slight alteration in three wall polymer compositions (cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin), in their stem mechanical strength and biomass yield, but were significantly decreased in the cellulose degree of polymerization (DP) and lignocellulose crystalline index (CrI) by 21-22%. Notably, the crude cellulose substrates of the transgenic lines were more efficiently digested by cellobiohydrolase (CBHI) than those of the WT, indicating the significantly increased amounts of reducing ends of ?-1,4-glucans in cellulose microfibrils. Finally, the engineered lines generated high sugar yields after mild alkali pretreatments and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis, resulting in the high bioethanol yields obtained at 22.5% of dry matter. Conclusions:Overproduction of OsGH9B1/B3 enzymes should have specific activity in the postmodification of cellulose microfibrils. The increased reducing ends of ?-1,4-glucan chains for reduced cellulose DP and CrI positively affected biomass enzymatic saccharification. Our results demonstrate a potential strategy for genetic modification of cellulose microfibrils in bioenergy crops.
Project description:Background:Miscanthus is a leading bioenergy crop with enormous lignocellulose production potential for biofuels and chemicals. However, lignocellulose recalcitrance leads to biomass process difficulty for an efficient bioethanol production. Hence, it becomes essential to identify the integrative impact of lignocellulose recalcitrant factors on cellulose accessibility for biomass enzymatic hydrolysis. In this study, we analyzed four typical pairs of Miscanthus accessions that showed distinct cell wall compositions and sorted out three major factors that affected biomass saccharification for maximum bioethanol production. Results:Among the three optimal (i.e., liquid hot water, H2SO4 and NaOH) pretreatments performed, mild alkali pretreatment (4% NaOH at 50 °C) led to almost complete biomass saccharification when 1% Tween-80 was co-supplied into enzymatic hydrolysis in the desirable Miscanthus accessions. Consequently, the highest bioethanol yields were obtained at 19% (% dry matter) from yeast fermentation, with much higher sugar-ethanol conversion rates by 94-98%, compared to the other Miscanthus species subjected to stronger pretreatments as reported in previous studies. By comparison, three optimized pretreatments distinctively extracted wall polymers and specifically altered polymer features and inter-linkage styles, but the alkali pretreatment caused much increased biomass porosity than that of the other pretreatments. Based on integrative analyses, excellent equations were generated to precisely estimate hexoses and ethanol yields under various pretreatments and a hypothetical model was proposed to outline an integrative impact on biomass saccharification and bioethanol production subjective to a predominate factor (CR stain) of biomass porosity and four additional minor factors (DY stain, cellulose DP, hemicellulose X/A, lignin G-monomer). Conclusion:Using four pairs of Miscanthus samples with distinct cell wall composition and varied biomass saccharification, this study has determined three main factors of lignocellulose recalcitrance that could be significantly reduced for much-increased biomass porosity upon optimal pretreatments. It has also established a novel standard that should be applicable to judge any types of biomass process technology for high biofuel production in distinct lignocellulose substrates. Hence, this study provides a potential strategy for precise genetic modification of lignocellulose in all bioenergy crops.
Project description:Background:The genetic modification of plant cell walls has been considered to reduce lignocellulose recalcitrance in bioenergy crops. As a result, it is important to develop a precise and rapid assay for the major wall polymer features that affect biomass saccharification in a large population of transgenic plants. In this study, we collected a total of 246 transgenic rice plants that, respectively, over-expressed and RNAi silenced 12 genes of the OsGH9 and OsGH10 family that are closely associated with cellulose and hemicellulose modification. We examined the wall polymer features and biomass saccharification among 246 transgenic plants and one wild-type plant. The samples presented a normal distribution applicable for statistical analysis and NIRS modeling. Results:Among the 246 transgenic rice plants, we determined largely varied wall polymer features and the biomass enzymatic saccharification after alkali pretreatment in rice straws, particularly for the fermentable hexoses, ranging from 52.8 to 95.9%. Correlation analysis indicated that crystalline cellulose and lignin levels negatively affected the hexose and total sugar yields released from pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis in the transgenic rice plants, whereas the arabinose levels and arabinose substitution degree (reverse xylose/arabinose ratio) exhibited positive impacts on the hexose and total sugars yields. Notably, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was applied to obtain ten equations for predicting biomass enzymatic saccharification and seven equations for distinguishing major wall polymer features. Most of the equations exhibited high R2/R2cv/R2ev and RPD values for a perfect prediction capacity. Conclusions:Due to large generated populations of transgenic rice lines, this study has not only examined the key wall polymer features that distinctively affect biomass enzymatic saccharification in rice but has also established optimal NIRS models for a rapid and precise screening of major wall polymer features and lignocellulose saccharification in biomass samples. Importantly, this study has briefly explored the potential roles of a total of 12 OsGH9 and OsGH10 genes in cellulose and hemicellulose modification and cell wall remodeling in transgenic rice lines. Hence, it provides a strategy for genetic modification of plant cell walls by expressing the desired OsGH9 and OsGH10 genes that could greatly improve biomass enzymatic digestibility in rice.
Project description:<b>Background: </b>The recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass provided technical and economic challenges in the current biomass conversion processes. Lignin is considered as a crucial recalcitrance component in biomass utilization. An in-depth understanding of lignin biosynthesis can provide clues to overcoming the recalcitrance. Laccases are believed to play a role in the oxidation of lignin monomers, leading to the formation of higher-order lignin. In plants, functions of only a few laccases have been evaluated, so little is known about the effect of laccases on cell wall structure and biomass saccharification.<br><br><b>Results: </b>In this study, we screened a gain-of-function mutant with a significant increase in lignin content from Arabidopsis mutant lines overexpressing a full-length poplar cDNA library. Further analysis confirmed that a Chinese white poplar (Populus tomentosa) laccase gene PtoLAC14 was inserted into the mutant, and PtoLAC14 could functionally complement the Arabidopsis lac4 mutant. Overexpression of PtoLAC14 promoted the lignification of poplar and reduced the proportion of syringyl/guaiacyl. In contrast, the CRISPR/Cas9-generated mutation of PtLAC14 results in increased the syringyl/guaiacyl ratios, which led to integrated enhancement on biomass enzymatic saccharification. Notably, the recombinant PtoLAC14 protein showed higher oxidized efficiency to coniferyl alcohol (precursor of guaiacyl unit) in vitro.<br><br><b>Conclusions: </b>This study shows that PtoLAC14 plays an important role in the oxidation of guaiacyl deposition on cell wall. The reduced recalcitrance of the PtoLAC14-KO lines suggests that PtoLAC14 is an elite target for cell wall engineering, and genetic manipulation of this gene will facilitate the utilization of lignocellulose.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>As a major component of plant cell walls, cellulose provides the most abundant biomass resource convertible for biofuels. Since cellulose crystallinity and polymerization have been characterized as two major features accounting for lignocellulose recalcitrance against biomass enzymatic saccharification, genetic engineering of cellulose biosynthesis is increasingly considered as a promising solution in bioenergy crops. Although several transcription factors have been identified to regulate cellulose biosynthesis and plant cell wall formation, much remains unknown about its potential roles for genetic improvement of lignocellulose recalcitrance.<h4>Results</h4>In this study, we identified a novel rice mutant (Osfc9/myb103) encoded a R2R3-MYB transcription factor, and meanwhile generated OsMYB103L-RNAi-silenced transgenic lines. We determined significantly reduced cellulose levels with other major wall polymers (hemicellulose, lignin) slightly altered in mature rice straws of the myb103 mutant and RNAi line, compared to their wild type (NPB). Notably, the rice mutant and RNAi line were of significantly reduced cellulose features (crystalline index/CrI, degree of polymerization/DP) and distinct cellulose nanofibers assembly. These alterations consequently improved lignocellulose recalcitrance for significantly enhanced biomass enzymatic saccharification by 10-28% at p < 0.01 levels (n = 3) after liquid hot water and chemical (1% H<sub>2</sub>SO<sub>4</sub>, 1% NaOH) pretreatments with mature rice straws. In addition, integrated RNA sequencing with DNA affinity purification sequencing (DAP-seq) analyses revealed that the OsMYB103L might specifically mediate cellulose biosynthesis and deposition by regulating OsCesAs and other genes associated with microfibril assembly.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study has demonstrated that down-regulation of OsMYB103L could specifically improve cellulose features and cellulose nanofibers assembly to significantly enhance biomass enzymatic saccharification under green-like and mild chemical pretreatments in rice. It has not only indicated a powerful strategy for genetic modification of plant cell walls in bioenergy crops, but also provided insights into transcriptional regulation of cellulose biosynthesis in plants.
Project description:Background:Biological conversion of lignocellulosic biomass is significantly hindered by feedstock recalcitrance, which is typically assessed through an enzymatic digestion assay, often preceded by a thermal and/or chemical pretreatment. Here, we assay 17 lines of unpretreated transgenic black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) utilizing a lignocellulose-degrading, metabolically engineered bacterium, Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. The poplar lines were assessed by incubation with an engineered C. bescii strain that solubilized and converted the hexose and pentose carbohydrates to ethanol and acetate. The resulting fermentation titer and biomass solubilization were then utilized as a measure of biomass recalcitrance and compared to data previously reported on the transgenic poplar samples. Results:Of the 17 transgenic poplar lines examined with C. bescii, a wide variation in solubilization and fermentation titer was observed. While the wild type poplar control demonstrated relatively high recalcitrance with a total solubilization of only 20% and a fermentation titer of 7.3 mM, the transgenic lines resulted in solubilization ranging from 15 to 79% and fermentation titers from 6.8 to 29.6 mM. Additionally, a strong inverse correlation (R 2?=?0.8) between conversion efficiency and lignin content was observed with lower lignin samples more easily converted and solubilized by C. bescii. Conclusions:Feedstock recalcitrance can be significantly reduced with transgenic plants, but finding the correct modification may require a large sample set to identify the most advantageous genetic modifications for the feedstock. Utilizing C. bescii as a screening assay for recalcitrance, poplar lines with down-regulation of coumarate 3-hydroxylase 3 (C3H3) resulted in the highest degrees of solubilization and conversion by C. bescii. One such line, with a growth phenotype similar to the wild-type, generated more than three times the fermentation products of the wild-type poplar control, suggesting that excellent digestibility can be achieved without compromising fitness of the tree.
Project description:Developing an efficient deconstruction step of woody biomass for biorefinery has been drawing considerable attention since its xylem cell walls display highly recalcitrance nature. Here, we explored transcriptional factors (TFs) that reduce wood recalcitrance and improve saccharification efficiency in Populus species. First, 33 TF genes up-regulated during poplar wood formation were selected as potential regulators of xylem cell wall structure. The transgenic hybrid aspens (Populus tremula?×?Populus tremuloides) overexpressing each selected TF gene were screened for in vitro enzymatic saccharification. Of these, four transgenic seedlings overexpressing previously uncharacterized TF genes increased total glucan hydrolysis on average compared to control. The best performing lines overexpressing Pt?×?tERF123 and Pt?×?tZHD14 were further grown to form mature xylem in the greenhouse. Notably, the xylem cell walls exhibited significantly increased total xylan hydrolysis as well as initial hydrolysis rates of glucan. The increased saccharification of Pt?×?tERF123-overexpressing lines could reflect the improved balance of cell wall components, i.e., high cellulose and low xylan and lignin content, which could be caused by upregulation of cellulose synthase genes upon the expression of Pt?×?tERF123. Overall, we successfully identified Pt?×?tERF123 and Pt?×?tZHD14 as effective targets for reducing cell wall recalcitrance and improving the enzymatic degradation of woody plant biomass.
Project description:Lignin is a complex phenylpropanoid polymer deposited in plant cell walls. Lignin has long been recognized as an important limiting factor for the polysaccharide-oriented biomass utilizations. To mitigate lignin-associated biomass recalcitrance, numerous mutants and transgenic plants that produce lignocellulose with reduced lignin contents and/or lignins with altered chemical structures have been produced and characterised. However, it is not fully understood how altered lignin chemistry affects the supramolecular structure of lignocellulose, and consequently, its utilization properties. Herein, we conducted comprehensive chemical and supramolecular structural analyses of lignocellulose produced by a rice cad2 mutant deficient in CINNAMYL ALCOHOL DEHYDROGENASE (CAD), which encodes a key enzyme in lignin biosynthesis. By using a solution-state two-dimensional NMR approach and complementary chemical methods, we elucidated the structural details of the altered lignins enriched with unusual hydroxycinnamaldehyde-derived substructures produced by the cad2 mutant. In parallel, polysaccharide assembly and the molecular mobility of lignocellulose were investigated by solid-state 13C MAS NMR, nuclear magnetic relaxation, X-ray diffraction, and Simon's staining analyses. Possible links between CAD-associated lignin modifications (in terms of total content and chemical structures) and changes to the lignocellulose supramolecular structure are discussed in the context of the improved biomass saccharification efficiency of the cad2 rice mutant.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The efficiency of biological systems as an option for pretreating lignocellulosic biomass has to be improved to make the process practical. Fungal treatment with manganese (Mn) addition for improving lignocellulosic biomass fractionation and enzyme accessibility were investigated in this study. The broad-spectrum effect was tested on two different types of feedstocks with three fungal species. Since the physicochemical and structural properties of biomass were the main changes caused by fungal degradation, detailed characterization of biomass structural features was conducted to understand the mechanism of Mn-enhanced biomass saccharification.<h4>Results</h4>The glucose yields of fungal-treated poplar and wheat straw increased by 2.97- and 5.71-fold, respectively, after Mn addition. Particularly, over 90% of glucose yield was achieved in Mn-assisted Pleurotus ostreatus-treated wheat straw. A comparison study using pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) and two-dimensional <sup>1</sup>H-<sup>13</sup>C heteronuclear single quantum coherence (2D HSQC) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was conducted to elucidate the role of Mn addition on fungal disruption of the cross-linked structure of whole plant cell wall. The increased C<sub>α</sub>-oxidized products was consistent with the enhanced cleavage of the major β-O-4 ether linkages in poplar and wheat straw lignin or in the wheat straw lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCCs), which led to the reduced condensation degree in lignin and decreased lignin content in Mn-assisted fungal-treated biomass. The correlation analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) further demonstrated that Mn addition to fungal treatment enhanced bond cleavage in lignin, especially the β-O-4 ether linkage cleavage played the dominant role in removing the biomass recalcitrance and contributing to the glucose yield enhancement. Meanwhile, enhanced deconstruction of LCCs was important in reducing wheat straw recalcitrance. The findings provided not only mechanistic insights into the Mn-enhanced biomass digestibility by fungus, but also a strategy for improving biological pretreatment efficiency of lignocellulose.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The mechanism of enhanced saccharification of biomass by Mn-assisted fungal treatment mainly through C<sub>α</sub>-oxidative cleavage of β-O-4 ether linkages further led to the decreased condensation degree in lignin, as a result, biomass recalcitrance was significantly reduced by Mn addition.
Project description:The precise role of KNAT7 transcription factors (TFs) in regulating secondary cell wall (SCW) biosynthesis in poplars has remained unknown, while our understanding of KNAT7 functions in other plants is continuously evolving. To study the impact of genetic modifications of homologous and heterologous KNAT7 gene expression on SCW formation in transgenic poplars, we prepared poplar KNAT7 (PtKNAT7) overexpression (PtKNAT7-OE) and antisense suppression (PtKNAT7-AS) vector constructs for the generation of transgenic poplar lines via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Since the overexpression of homologous genes can sometimes result in co-suppression, we also overexpressed Arabidopsis KNAT7 (AtKNAT7-OE) in transgenic poplars. In all these constructs, the expression of KNAT7 transgenes was driven by developing xylem (DX)-specific promoter, DX15. Compared to wild-type (WT) controls, many SCW biosynthesis genes downstream of KNAT7 were highly expressed in poplar PtKNAT7-OE and AtKNAT7-OE lines. Yet, no significant increase in lignin content of woody biomass of these transgenic lines was observed. PtKNAT7-AS lines, however, showed reduced expression of many SCW biosynthesis genes downstream of KNAT7 accompanied by a reduction in lignin content of wood compared to WT controls. Syringyl to Guaiacyl lignin (S/G) ratios were significantly increased in all three KNAT7 knockdown and overexpression transgenic lines than WT controls. These transgenic lines were essentially indistinguishable from WT controls in terms of their growth phenotype. Saccharification efficiency of woody biomass was significantly increased in all transgenic lines than WT controls. Overall, our results demonstrated that developing xylem-specific alteration of KNAT7 expression affects the expression of SCW biosynthesis genes, impacting at least the lignification process and improving saccharification efficiency, hence providing one of the powerful tools for improving bioethanol production from woody biomass of bioenergy crops and trees.