Abundance of Major Cell Wall Components in Natural Variants and Pedigrees of Populus trichocarpa

Anne Ware, Renee Happs, David Macaya-Sanz, Crissa Doeppke, Wellington Muchero, Stephen DiFazio

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3 Scopus Citations


The rapid analysis of biopolymers including lignin and sugars in lignocellulosic biomass cell walls is essential for the analysis of the large sample populations needed for identifying heritable genetic variation in biomass feedstocks for biofuels and bioproducts. In this study, we reported the analysis of cell wall lignin content, syringyl/guaiacyl (S/G) ratio, as well as glucose and xylose content by high-throughput pyrolysis-molecular beam mass spectrometry (py-MBMS) for >3,600 samples derived from hundreds of accessions of Populus trichocarpa from natural populations, as well as pedigrees constructed from 14 parents (7 × 7). Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression models were built from the samples of known sugar composition previously determined by hydrolysis followed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis. Key spectral features positively correlated with glucose content consisted of m/z 126, 98, and 69, among others, deriving from pyrolyzates such as hydroxymethylfurfural, maltol, and other sugar-derived species. Xylose content positively correlated primarily with many lignin-derived ions and to a lesser degree with m/z 114, deriving from a lactone produced from xylose pyrolysis. Models were capable of predicting glucose and xylose contents with an average error of less than 4%, and accuracy was significantly improved over previously used methods. The differences in the models constructed from the two sample sets varied in training sample number, but the genetic and compositional uniformity of the pedigree set could be a potential driver in the slightly better performance of that model in comparison with the natural variants. Broad-sense heritability of glucose and xylose composition using these data was 0.32 and 0.34, respectively. In summary, we have demonstrated the use of a single high-throughput method to predict sugar and lignin composition in thousands of poplar samples to estimate the heritability and phenotypic plasticity of traits necessary to develop optimized feedstocks for bioenergy applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number757810
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Harman-Ware, Happs, Macaya-Sanz, Doeppke, Muchero and DiFazio.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-80789


  • bioenergy
  • biomass cell wall composition
  • glucose
  • heritability
  • high-throughput analysis
  • pyrolysis-molecular beam mass spectrometry
  • xylose


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