2014 R&D 100 Winner
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering is a powerful new method for rapidly transforming crops into biological factories. The technology, a suite of high-precision genetic tools and procedures, makes it possible to change plant traits in a highly selective, tissue-specific fashion. For example, lignin is a tightly bound polymer chain found in woody materials. Mutant dwarf plants with naturally low levels of lignin are fairly easy to break down into sugars for fermentation into biofuels, but such plants grow poorly because important tissues lack the strength and structural integrity provided by lignin. Using Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering, a plant can be manipulated to have high lignin levels only in its water-carrying vascular cells, where cell-wall strength is needed for survival, but low levels throughout the rest of the plant. The result is a low-lignin plant that nevertheless grows robustly, making it a better feedstock candidate for biofuels industry.
Cell wall engineering method
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
|Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering development team (l-r): Henrik Vibe Scheller and Dominique Loque.|
The Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering Development Team from Lawrence Berkeley National Labroatory
Dominique Loque, Principal Developer
Henrik Vibe Scheller, Principal Developer