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Trends Plant Sci. 2003 Dec;8(12):576-81.

Lignins and lignocellulosics: a better control of synthesis for new and improved uses.

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UMR CNRS-UPS 5546 Pôle de Biotechnologie Végétale-24 chemin de Borde Rouge-BP 17 Auzeville-31326 Castanet Tolosan Cedex, France.


The composition and structure of lignified walls has a dramatic impact on the technological value of raw materials. The chemical flexibility of the secondary cell wall has been demonstrated and it is now possible to develop strategies to optimize its composition through genetic engineering. Thanks to functional genomics, new target genes of both plant and microbial origin are rapidly becoming available for this purpose and their use will open new avenues for producing tailor-made plant products with improved properties. Moreover, the major proportion of terrestrial plant biomass comprises lignified cell walls and this reservoir of carbon should be increasingly exploited for the production of chemicals and energy within the context of sustainable development. For example, the design of plants suitable for downstream conversion processes, such as the production of bioethanol, and the exploitation of microorganisms and microbial enzymes for biomass pretreatments or for the production of novel chemicals.

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