Volume 92 Issue 14 | p. 11 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 7, 2014

Trees Designed for Destruction

Plant Biochemistry: Chemical tweak to lignin could yield trees that are easier to pulp
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Environmental SCENE
Keywords: tree, lignin, genetic engineering, Angelica sinensis

With a little genetic tinkering, scientists have managed to create trees that contain a more easily processable version of the biopolymer lignin. The advance could make it easier and cheaper to pulp wood into paper.

Trees need lignin to grow. The phenolic polymer provides support and strength to trees’ cell walls. But lignin’s strength-giving properties become a liability when turning wood into high-quality paper. So papermakers have to remove the biopolymer during the pulping process. . . .

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