Exogenous chalcone synthase expression in developing poplar xylem incorporates naringenin into lignins
E.L. Mahon et al. "Exogenous chalcone synthase expression in developing poplar xylem incorporates naringenin into lignins" Plant Physiology 188 (2021) [DOI:doi.org/10.1093/plphys/kiab499]
Lignin, a polyphenolic polymer, is a major chemical constituent of the cell walls of terrestrial plants. The biosynthesis of lignin is a highly plastic process, as highlighted by an increasing number of noncanonical monomers that have been successfully identified in an array of plants. Here, we engineered hybrid poplar (Populus alba x grandidentata) to express chalcone synthase 3 (MdCHS3) derived from apple (Malus domestica) in lignifying xylem. Transgenic trees displayed an accumulation of the flavonoid naringenin in xylem methanolic extracts not inherently observed in wild-type trees. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis revealed the presence of naringenin in the extract-free, cellulase-treated xylem lignin of MdCHS3-poplar, indicating the incorporation of this flavonoid-derived compound into poplar secondary cell wall lignins. The transgenic trees also displayed lower total cell wall lignin content and increased cell wall carbohydrate content and performed significantly better in limited saccharification assays than their wild-type counterparts.