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Label-free in situ imaging of lignification in the cell wall of low lignin transgenic Populus trichocarpa

Schmidt, M., Schwartzberg, A. M., Perera, P. N., Weber-Bargioni, A., Carroll, A., Sarkar, P., Bosneaga, E., Urban, J. J., Song, J., Balakshin, M. Y., Capanema, E. A., Auer, M., Adams, P. D., Chiang, V. L., Schuck, P. James
Planta 2009 v.230 no.3 pp. 589-597
Populus balsamifera subsp. trichocarpa, biosynthesis, cell walls, cellulose, genes, image analysis, lignification, lignin, microscopy, saccharification, stemwood
Chemical imaging by confocal Raman microscopy has been used for the visualization of the cellulose and lignin distribution in wood cell walls. Lignin reduction in wood can be achieved by, for example, transgenic suppression of a monolignol biosynthesis gene encoding 4-coumarate-CoA ligase (4CL). Here, we use confocal Raman microscopy to compare lignification in wild type and lignin-reduced 4CL transgenic Populus trichocarpa stem wood with spatial resolution that is sub-μm. Analyzing the lignin Raman bands in the spectral region between 1,600 and 1,700 cm⁻¹, differences in lignin signal intensity and localization are mapped in situ. Transgenic reduction of lignin is particularly pronounced in the S2 wall layer of fibers, suggesting that such transgenic approach may help overcome cell wall recalcitrance to wood saccharification. Spatial heterogeneity in the lignin composition, in particular with regard to ethylenic residues, is observed in both samples.