Overexpression of Reduced Wall Acetylation C Increases Xylan Acetylation and Biomass Recalcitrance in Populus: Article No. kiad377

Jin Zhang, Xiaqin Wang, Hsin-Tzu Wang, Zhenzhen Qiao, Tao Yao, Meng Xie, Breeanna Urbanowicz, Wei Zeng, Sara Jawdy, Lee Gunter, Xiaohan Yang, Olaf Czarnecki, Sharon Regan, Armand Seguin, William Rottmann, Kimberly Winkeler, Robert Sykes, Anna Lipzen, Chris Daum, Kerrie BarryMeng-Zhu Lu, Gerald Tuskan, Wellington Muchero, Jin-Gui Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant lignocellulosic biomass, i.e. secondary cell walls of plants, is a vital alternative source for bioenergy. However, the acetylation of xylan in secondary cell walls impedes the conversion of biomass to biofuels. Previous studies have shown that reduced wall acetylation (RWA) proteins are directly involved in the acetylation of xylan but the regulatory mechanism of RWAs is not fully understood. In this study, we demonstrate that overexpression of a Populus trichocarpa PtRWA-C gene increases the level of xylan acetylation and increases the lignin content and S/G ratio, ultimately yielding poplar woody biomass with reduced saccharification efficiency. Furthermore, through gene coexpression network and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis, we found that PtRWA-C was regulated not only by the secondary cell wall hierarchical regulatory network but also by an AP2 family transcription factor HARDY (HRD). Specifically, HRD activates PtRWA-C expression by directly binding to the PtRWA-C promoter, which is also the cis-eQTL for PtRWA-C. Taken together, our findings provide insights into the functional roles of PtRWA-C in xylan acetylation and consequently saccharification and shed light on synthetic biology approaches to manipulate this gene and alter cell wall properties. These findings have substantial implications for genetic engineering of woody species, which could be used as a sustainable source of biofuels, valuable biochemicals, and biomaterials.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)243-257
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-87251


  • bioenergy
  • lignocellulosic biomass
  • overexpression
  • poplar
  • Populus trichocarpa PtRWA-C gene
  • xylan acetylation


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