Introducing curcumin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis enhances lignocellulosic biomass processing.

Nature plants (2019-01-30)
Paula Oyarce, Barbara De Meester, Fernando Fonseca, Lisanne de Vries, Geert Goeminne, Andreas Pallidis, Riet De Rycke, Yukiko Tsuji, Yanding Li, Sander Van den Bosch, Bert Sels, John Ralph, Ruben Vanholme, Wout Boerjan

Lignin is the main cause of lignocellulosic biomass recalcitrance to industrial enzymatic hydrolysis. By partially replacing the traditional lignin monomers by alternative ones, lignin extractability can be enhanced. To design a lignin that is easier to degrade under alkaline conditions, curcumin (diferuloylmethane) was produced in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana via simultaneous expression of the turmeric (Curcuma longa) genes DIKETIDE-CoA SYNTHASE (DCS) and CURCUMIN SYNTHASE 2 (CURS2). The transgenic plants produced a plethora of curcumin- and phenylpentanoid-derived compounds with no negative impact on growth. Catalytic hydrogenolysis gave evidence that both curcumin and phenylpentanoids were incorporated into the lignifying cell wall, thereby significantly increasing saccharification efficiency after alkaline pretreatment of the transgenic lines by 14-24% as compared with the wild type. These results demonstrate that non-native monomers can be synthesized and incorporated into the lignin polymer in plants to enhance their biomass processing efficiency.

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Coniferyl alcohol, 98%