The invention provides methods for modifying lignin, cellulose, xylan, and hemicellulose content in plants, and for achieving ectopic lignification and, for instance, secondary cell wall synthesis in pith cells, by altered regulation of a WRKY transcription factor. Nucleic acid constructs for altered WRKY-TF expression are described. Transgenic plants are provided that comprise modified pith cell walls, and lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose content. Plants described herein may be used, for example, as improved biofuel feedstock and as highly digestible forage crops.
This invention was made with Government support under grant DE-PS02-06ER64304 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy; grant 703285 awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and grant DBI-0421683 awarded by the NSF Plant Genome Program. The Government has certain rights in the invention.