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C R Biol. 2004 May;327(5):455-65.

Genetic and molecular basis of grass cell-wall degradability. I. Lignin-cell wall matrix interactions.

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  • 1US Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, 1925 Linden Drive West, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Lignification limits grass cell-wall digestion by herbivores. Lignification is spatially and temporally regulated, and lignin characteristics differ between cell walls, plant tissues, and plant parts. Grass lignins are anchored within walls by ferulate and diferulate cross-links, p-coumarate cyclodimers, and possibly benzyl ester and ether cross-links. Cell-wall degradability is regulated by lignin concentration, cross-linking, and hydrophobicity but not directly by most variations in lignin composition or structure. Genetic manipulation of lignification can improve grass cell-wall degradability, but the degree of success will depend on genetic background, plant modification techniques employed, and analytical methods used to characterize cell walls.

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