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Modification of Lignin Content of Plant Cell Walls

Brookhaven National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

The use of woody biomass for the energy-effective production of biofuels is challenged by the difficulties encountered in breaking down lignin. This technology uses modified (iso)-eugenol methyltransferases to reduce the lignin content and cross-linking in plant cell walls. Its adaptation to biofuel production may lead to more effective use of woody biomass.


Non-native lignin precursors are generated in which the para-position of monolignols is O-methylated, directing the monolignols away from the path of lignin polymerization and crosslinking. By modifying iso-eugenol 4-O-methyl transferase (IEMT) from the 4-O-methylation of isoeugenol to the 3/5-O-methylation of caffeic acid, the modified IEMT was used to reduce lignin content of model plants.


The re-direction of monolignols from the lignin polymerization and cross-linking pathway may be used to produce plants that have more digestible lignin such that their use as biomass for biofuel production is greatly enhanced.

Applications and Industries

Biomass to biofuels conversion and production is enabled by this technology.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,889,392
Monolignol 4-O-methyltransferases and uses thereof
Modified (iso)eugenol 4-O-methyltransferase enzymes having novel capacity for methylation of monolignols and reduction of lignin polymerization in plant cell wall are disclosed. Sequences encoding the modified enzymes are disclosed.
Brookhaven National Laboratory 11/18/2014
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
BSA 11-03PrototypeAvailable03/30/201503/30/2015

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To: Poornima Upadhya<>