Increase Of Cellulose Biosynthesis

Kyung-Hwan Han, Jae-Heung Ko, Won-Chan Kim, Joo-Yeol Kim

Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate that serves as the basic structural component of plant cell walls. It accounts for roughly one-third of all vegetal matter, making it the most common organic compound on earth. Due to its ubiquitous nature, cellulose and its derivatives are key resources for the agriculture, forestry, textile, and paper industries. For these industries that rely on plant biomass, profitability is directly related to the quantity and quality of cellulose harvested from crops. However, until now, there have been no known methods of genetically controlling the quantity or quality of cellulose synthesized in plant species through direct regulation.

The Invention

Michigan State University’s technology is a group of transgenic plant compositions having increased cellulose content and methods of directly regulating cellulose biosynthesis through genetic control. The invention includes a set of five transcription factors that directly activate the expression of cellulose synthases, thus increasing the production of cellulose. The technology may provide a strategy to increase the amount and quality of cellulose in plants. Higher cellulose content: Increased cellulose production would enable cellulose-dependent industries to meet increasing demand with decreasing production area. Higher quality of cellulose content: By altering the balance of cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses, plant materials can be optimized for applications. For example, this can result in easier conversion to biofuels or more efficient pulping for paper products. Increased control: This technology provides transcription factors that directly regulate the synthesis of cellulose and are, therefore, expected to have fewer negative side effects when over-expressed.

Key Benefits
  • Higher cellulose content
  • Higher quality of cellulose content
  • Increased control
  • Agriculture: miscanthus, switchgrass, and maize (corn)
  • Forestry: poplar and loblolly pine
Technology Contact

Thomas Herlache Assistant Director Michigan State University​

Sustainable Bioenergy Cropping Systems