Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) is a key enzyme involved in the last step of monolignol biosynthesis. The effect of CAD down-regulation on lignin production was investigated through a transgenic approach in maize. Transgenic CAD-RNAi plants show a different degree of enzymatic reduction depending on the analyzed tissue and show alterations in cell wall composition. Cell walls of CAD-RNAi stems contain a lignin polymer with a slight reduction in the S-to-G ratio without affecting the total lignin content. In addition, these cell walls accumulate higher levels of cellulose and arabinoxylans. In contrast, cell walls of CAD-RNAi midribs present a reduction in the total lignin content and of cell wall polysaccharides. In vitro degradability assays showed that, although to a different extent, the changes induced by the repression of CAD activity produced midribs and stems more degradable than wild-type plants. CAD-RNAi plants grown in the field presented a wild-type phenotype and produced higher amounts of dry biomass. Cellulosic bioethanol assays revealed that CAD-RNAi biomass produced higher levels of ethanol compared to wild-type, making CAD a good target to improve both the nutritional and energetic values of maize lignocellulosic biomass. The Author 2011. Published by the Molecular Plant Shanghai Editorial Office in association with Oxford University Press on behalf of CSPB and IPPE, SIBS, CAS.2011 © The Author 2011. Published by the Molecular Plant Shanghai Editorial Office in association with Oxford University Press on behalf of CSPB and IPPE, SIBS, CAS.
- Lignocellulosic biomass
- Secondary cell wall