Engineering plant biomass lignin content and composition for biofuels and bioproducts

Cassie Marie Welker, Vimal Kumar Balasubramanian, Carloalberto Petti, Krishan Mohan Rai, Seth De Bolt, Venugopal Mendu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Citations (SciVal)


Lignin is an aromatic biopolymer involved in providing structural support to plant cell walls. Compared to the other cell wall polymers, i.e., cellulose and hemicelluloses, lignin has been considered a hindrance in cellulosic bioethanol production due to the complexity involved in its separation from other polymers of various biomass feedstocks. Nevertheless, lignin is a potential source of valuable aromatic chemical compounds and upgradable building blocks. Though the biosynthetic pathway of lignin has been elucidated in great detail, the random nature of the polymerization (free radical coupling) process poses challenges for its depolymerization into valuable bioproducts. The absence of specific methodologies for lignin degradation represents an important opportunity for research and development. This review highlights research development in lignin biosynthesis, lignin genetic engineering and different biological and chemical means of depolymerization used to convert lignin into biofuels and bioproducts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7654-7676
Number of pages23
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the authors.


  • Degradation
  • Depolymerization
  • Genetic engineering
  • Hydrogenolysis
  • Lignin
  • Lignocellulose
  • Plant cell wall
  • Pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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