Emerging strategies of lignin engineering and degradation for cellulosic biofuel production

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2008 Apr;19(2):166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2008.02.014. Epub 2008 Apr 9.


Ethanol and other biofuels produced from lignocellulosic biomass represent a renewable, more carbon-balanced alternative to both fossil fuels and corn-derived or sugarcane-derived ethanol. Unfortunately, the presence of lignin in plant cell walls impedes the breakdown of cell wall polysaccharides to simple sugars and the subsequent conversion of these sugars to usable fuel. Recent advances in the understanding of lignin composition, polymerization, and regulation have revealed new opportunities for the rational manipulation of lignin in future bioenergy crops, augmenting the previous successful approach of manipulating lignin monomer biosynthesis. Furthermore, recent studies on lignin degradation in nature may provide novel resources for the delignification of dedicated bioenergy crops and other sources of lignocellulosic biomass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioelectric Energy Sources*
  • Biomass
  • Cellulose / chemistry
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Lignin / chemistry
  • Lignin / metabolism*
  • Plant Development
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified


  • Cellulose
  • Lignin