Cell wall composition and lignin biosynthetic gene expression along a developmental gradient in an Australian sugarcane cultivar

William P. Bewg, Heather Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Sugarcane bagasse is an abundant source of lignocellulosic material for bioethanol production. Utilisation of bagasse for biofuel production would be environmentally and economically beneficial, but the recalcitrance of lignin continues to provide a challenge. Further understanding of lignin production in specific cultivars will provide a basis for modification of genomes for the production of phenotypes with improved processing characteristics. Here we evaluated the expression profile of lignin biosynthetic genes and the cell wall composition along a developmental gradient in KQ228 sugarcane. The expression levels of nine lignin biosynthesis genes were quantified in five stem sections of increasing maturity and in root tissue. Two distinct expression patterns were seen. The first saw highest gene expression in the youngest tissue, with expression decreasing as tissue matured. The second pattern saw little to no change in transcription levels across the developmental gradient. Cell wall compositional analysis of the stem sections showed total lignin content to be significantly higher in more mature tissue than in the youngest section assessed. There were no changes in structural carbohydrates across developmental sections. These gene expression and cell wall compositional patterns can be used, along with other work in grasses, to inform biotechnological approaches to crop improvement for lignocellulosic biofuel production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4141
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Cell wall formation
  • Lignin
  • Lignocellulosic biofuels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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