- Lignin, a major component of the cell walls of plants is a large hindrance to the pulp & paper, & biofuel industry. Removal of lignin requires significant chemicals and energy, and also causes undesirable waste.
- Scientists at the University of British Columbia used genetic engineering to modify lignin by replacing the difficult-to-degrade ester bonds in its backbone by ones that are easy to degrade, without adversely affecting the tree’s mechanical strength.
- These trees require reduced energy and chemicals for their processing, thus reducing pollution and enabling recovery of more wood carbohydrate than is currently possible. Lignin so recovered can also be used in other applications such as adhesives, insolation, carbon fibres and paint additives.
- In the future, GM trees can be planted in fields like agricultural crops. Poplar is a potential energy crop for the biofuel industry as the tree requires minimal land and time for its growth.