Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

Systems Level Engineering of Plant Cell Wall Biosynthesis to Improve Biofuel Feedstock Quality

2008 Awardee

Investigator: S.P. Hazen

Institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Non-Technical Summary: The cell wall is a distinguishing feature of plants. It is a complex composite of polysaccharides, proteins, and lignin, with lignin and cellulose representing two of the most abundant bio-organic compounds on the planet.

Objectives: The goal of the proposed research is to 1) identify proteins that regulate biosynthetic enzymes and pathway modules of the cell wall and 2) generate a regulatory network model that enable us to manipulate whole pathways by transgenic expression of these key regulators.

Approach: First, we will screen for transcription factor protein interactions with regulatory sequences of key cell wall genes involved in cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin synthesis. Second, using a recently developed method to capture and identify the DNA bound to a transcription factor protein, we will define the extent of their genomic targets. Concurrently, we will develop gain- and loss-of-function mutants in the dicot model Arabidopsis and the monocot model Brachypodium to determine the effects of these perturbations on cell wall properties and energy crop quality.

Project Contact
Name: Samuel P. Hazen
Phone: 858-204-3902