Down Regulation and Up Regulation of Maize Lignin Biosynthesis Enzymes via RNAi Technology to Reduce Crop Pre-treatment Requirements for Bio-fuel Production, and/or Improve Hardwood Quality




Crops and crop residues such as maize stover are considered attractive cellulosic biomass feedstock for the production of bio-fuels, but suffer from the need to chemically pre-treat the material to break-down lignin and release cellulose and hemi-cellulose for fermentation. Crops with reduced pre-treatment would be advantageous. Lignin is also a major structural component of trees. Alteration in lignin content and/or composition could provide wood with improved properties.


Description of Technology


The invention is crop plants, particularly maize, but also trees, with altered lignin composition through down or up-regulation or other modification of lignin biosynthesis enzymes through RNAi based technology. The resulting plants provide crops and crop residues with reduced chemical pre-treatment requirements during bio-fuel production.

A similar approach could be applied to trees and provide wood with altered and improved quality characteristics.


Key Benefits

  • Cost savings: Reduced chemical pre-treatment of reduced lignin crops.
  • Efficiency improvement: The reduction in chemical pre-treatment will allow reduced chemical and energy consumption and reduced chemical waste management.
  • Higher bio-fuel yield: Increased bio-fuel productivity.
  • Altered wood: Trees and wood with altered quality performance.




Applications include genetically engineered crops used as feedstock for biofuel production and genetically engineered tree wood with altered properties.


Patent Status


Patent pending




Masomeh (Mariam) Sticklen


Tech ID




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University