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Increased Expression of Rice Acyltransferase Genes Improves Tissue Deconstructability Without Impacting Biomass Accumulation


JBEI has identified a rice acyltransferase gene, LOC_Os06g39390, for which increased gene expression reduces ferulic acid composition. JBEI has shown that incubation with cellulases releases more sugars from plant wall leaf material with over expression of the acyltransferase compared with wild type wall material. The plants with increased acyltransferase expression exhibit little or no significant changes in vegetative morphology and seed mass and no change in biomass compared with wildtype plants with normal levels of the acyltransferase. This is the first demonstration that increased expression of a native plant gene modifies ferulic acid cell wall content and affects cell wall digestibility. Unlike dicots, grasses incorporate the phenyl propanoid ferulic acid into the cell wall matrix polysaccharide arabinoxylan. Ferulic acid can then undergo reactive oxygen species mediated reactions to form covalent crosslinks between neighboring phenylpropanoid residues of arabinoxylan and lignin, making the biomass difficult to saccharify.
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