¹The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
²Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634
Biotechnology research efforts directed at facilitating lignin removal from lignocellulosic materials have taken one of two approaches: facilitating lignin removal by changing lignin monomer ratios, or via reducing total lignin content. However, altering lignin content or composition can lead to mutations with pleiotropic effects and undesirable phenotypes. Rather than decreasing the total lignin content or altering monomer ratios, we have taken a novel approach of introducing lignin-peptide cross-links. By replacing a fraction of lignin-lignin linkages with peptide linkages, we hypothesize that plant fitness will not be compromised, but that the introduction of peptide linkages will facilitate the “cracking” of lignin such that the cellulosic components are more easily accessed.