Analytical Py-GC/MS of Genetically Modified Poplar for the Increased Production of Bio-aromatics

Gorugantu SriBala, Hilal Ezgi Toraman, Steffen Symoens, Annabelle Déjardin, Gilles Pilate, Wout Boerjan, Frederik Ronsse, Kevin M. Van Geem, Guy B. Marin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Genetic engineering is a powerful tool to steer bio-oil composition towards the production of speciality chemicals such as guaiacols, syringols, phenols, and vanillin through well-defined biomass feedstocks. Our previous work demonstrated the effects of lignin biosynthesis gene modification on the pyrolysis vapour compositions obtained from wood derived from greenhouse-grown poplars. In this study, field-grown poplars downregulated in the genes encoding CINNAMYL ALCOHOL DEHYDROGENASE (CAD), CAFFEIC ACID O-METHYLTRANSFERASE (COMT) and CAFFEOYL-CoA O-METHYLTRANSFERASE (CCoAOMT), and their corresponding wild type were pyrolysed in a Py-GC/MS. This work aims at capturing the effects of downregulation of the three enzymes on bio-oil composition using principal component analysis (PCA). 3,5-methoxytoluene, vanillin, coniferyl alcohol, 4-vinyl guaiacol, syringol, syringaldehyde, and guaiacol are the determining factors in the PCA analysis that are the substantially affected by COMT, CAD and CCoAOMT enzyme downregulation. COMT and CAD downregulated transgenic lines proved to be statistically different from the wild type because of a substantial difference in S and G lignin units. The sCAD line lead to a significant drop (nearly 51%) in S-lignin derived compounds, while CCoAOMT downregulation affected the least (7–11%). Further, removal of extractives via pretreatment enhanced the statistical differences among the CAD transgenic lines and its wild type. On the other hand, COMT downregulation caused 2-fold reduction in S-derived compounds compared to G-derived compounds. This study manifests the applicability of PCA analysis in tracking the biological changes in biomass (poplar in this case) and their effects on pyrolysis-oil compositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-610
Number of pages12
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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