The present invention relates to methods and materials in the field of molecular biology, the manipulation of the phenylpropanoid pathway and the regulation of proteins synthesis through plant genetic engineering. More particularly, the invention relates to the introduction of a foreign nucleotide sequence into a plant genome, wherein the introduction of the nucleotide sequence effects an increase in the syringyl content of the plant's lignin. In one specific aspect, the invention relates to methods for modifying the plant lignin composition in a plant cell by the introduction there into of a foreign nucleotide sequence comprising at issue specific plant promoter sequence and a sequence encoding an active ferulate-5-hydroxylase (F5H) enzyme. Plant transformants harboring an inventive promoter-F5H construct demonstrate increased levels of syringyl monomer residues in their lignin, rendering the polymer more readily delignified and, thereby, rendering the plant more readily pulped or digested.
This invention was made with government support under the following grant: number DE-FG02-94ER20138 awarded by the Division of Energy Biosciences, United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.