Plant genetic engineering for biofuel production: towards affordable cellulosic ethanol

Nat Rev Genet. 2008 Jun;9(6):433-43. doi: 10.1038/nrg2336.


Biofuels provide a potential route to avoiding the global political instability and environmental issues that arise from reliance on petroleum. Currently, most biofuel is in the form of ethanol generated from starch or sugar, but this can meet only a limited fraction of global fuel requirements. Conversion of cellulosic biomass, which is both abundant and renewable, is a promising alternative. However, the cellulases and pretreatment processes involved are very expensive. Genetically engineering plants to produce cellulases and hemicellulases, and to reduce the need for pretreatment processes through lignin modification, are promising paths to solving this problem, together with other strategies, such as increasing plant polysaccharide content and overall biomass.

Publication types

  • Retracted Publication
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cellulase / biosynthesis*
  • Cellulase / chemistry*
  • Cellulase / genetics
  • Cellulose / chemistry*
  • Ethanol / metabolism*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Plants / enzymology
  • Plants / genetics*


  • Ethanol
  • Cellulose
  • Cellulase