Quantitative fermentation of unpretreated transgenic poplar by Caldicellulosiruptor bescii

Christopher T. Straub, Piyum A. Khatibi, Jack P. Wang, Jonathan M. Conway, Amanda M. Williams-Rhaesa, Ilona M. Peszlen, Vincent L. Chiang, Michael W.W. Adams, Robert M. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Microbial fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass to produce industrial chemicals is exacerbated by the recalcitrant network of lignin, cellulose and hemicelluloses comprising the plant secondary cell wall. In this study, we show that transgenic poplar (Populus trichocarpa) lines can be solubilized without any pretreatment by the extreme thermophile Caldicellulosiruptor bescii that has been metabolically engineered to shift its fermentation products away from inhibitory organic acids to ethanol. Carbohydrate solubilization and conversion of unpretreated milled biomass is nearly 90% for two transgenic lines, compared to only 25% for wild-type poplar. Unexpectedly, unpretreated intact poplar stems achieved nearly 70% of the fermentation production observed with milled poplar as the substrate. The nearly quantitative microbial conversion of the carbohydrate content of unpretreated transgenic lignocellulosic biomass bodes well for full utilization of renewable biomass feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3548
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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