Cell Wall Targeted in planta Iron Accumulation Enhances Biomass Conversion and Seed Iron Concentration in Arabidopsis and Rice

Hui Wei, Lintao Bu, Michael Himmel, Haibing Yang, Guojie Ma, Mauricio Antunes, Stefan Vogt, Joseph Cox, Xiao Zhang, Xiping Liu, S. Gleber, Nicholas Carpita, Lee Makowski, Melvin Tucker, Maureen McCann, Angus Murphy, Wendy Peer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus Citations


Conversion of nongrain biomass into liquid fuel is a sustainable approach to energy demands as global population increases. Previously, we showed that iron can act as a catalyst to enhance the degradation of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuel production. However, direct addition of iron catalysts to biomass pretreatment is diffusion-limited, would increase the cost and complexity of biorefinery unit operations and may have deleterious environmental impacts. Here, we show a new strategy for in planta accumulation of iron throughout the volume of the cell wall where iron acts as a catalyst in the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. We engineered CBM-IBP fusion polypeptides composed of a carbohydrate-binding module family 11 (CBM11) and an iron-binding peptide (IBP) for secretion into Arabidopsis and rice cell walls. CBM-IBP transformed Arabidopsis and rice plants show significant increases in iron accumulation and biomass conversion compared to respective controls. Further, CBM-IBP rice shows a 35% increase in seed iron concentration and a 40% increase in seed yield in greenhouse experiments. CBM-IBP rice potentially could be used to address iron deficiency, the most common and widespread nutritional disorder according to the World Health Organization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1998-2009
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-66087


  • biofuel
  • carbohydrate-binding module
  • cell wall
  • iron concentration
  • iron-binding peptide
  • secretion


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