Expression of a hyperthermophilic endoglucanase in hybrid poplar modifies the plant cell wall and enhances digestibility

Yao Xiao, Xuejun He, Yemaiza Ojeda-Lassalle, Charleson Poovaiah, Heather D. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Expression of glycosyl hydrolases in lignocellulosic biomass has been proposed as an alternative to improve efficiency of cellulosic ethanol production. In planta production of hyperthermophilic hydrolytic enzymes could prevent the detrimental effects often seen resulting from the expression of recombinant mesophilic enzymes to plant hosts. Utilizing lignocellulosic feedstocks to produce hyperthermophilic hydrolases provides additional benefits for ethanol production in the way of transgenic feedstocks serving as both enzyme providers and cellulosic substrates. Results: In this study, transgenic hybrid poplar (Populus alba × grandidentata) was generated to express a hyperthermophilic endoglucanase from Thermotoga neapolitana with an optimal temperature over 100 °C. Functional hyperthermoactive endoglucanase was successfully produced in the transgenic events, and altered phenotypic growth was observed in transgenic lines. Moreover, the line with the highest TnCelB expression in both leaf and developing xylem had reduced lignin content and cellulose crystallinity, resulting in a more digestible cell wall. The activation of TnCelB by a post-harvest heat treatment resulted in enhanced saccharification efficiencies of transgenic poplar lines with moderate TnCelB expression and without alteration of cellulose and lignin when not heat-treated. In planta high-level overexpression of a hyperthermophilic endoglucanase paired with heat treatment following harvest, resulted in biomass that was comparable with wild-type lines that underwent a traditional pretreatment for saccharification. Conclusions: Overexpression of hyperthermophilic endoglucanase in feedstock had impacts on plant growth and cell wall composition, especially when the enzyme was highly expressed. Improved glucan saccharification efficiencies from transgenic lines before and after heat treatment could reduce both the economic and environmental costs associated with ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number225
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 16 2018


  • Biofuel production
  • Cell wall composition
  • Hyperthermophilic cellulase
  • Saccharification
  • Transgenic poplar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of a hyperthermophilic endoglucanase in hybrid poplar modifies the plant cell wall and enhances digestibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this