Reduced wood stiffness and strength, and altered stem form, in young antisense 4CL transgenic poplars with reduced lignin contents
Article first published online: 15 DEC 2010
© 2010 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2010 New Phytologist Trust
Special Issue: Featured papers on ‘Carbon cycling in tropical ecosystems’
Volume 189, Issue 4, pages 1096–1109, March 2011
How to Cite
Voelker, S. L., Lachenbruch, B., Meinzer, F. C. and Strauss, S. H. (2011), Reduced wood stiffness and strength, and altered stem form, in young antisense 4CL transgenic poplars with reduced lignin contents. New Phytologist, 189: 1096–1109. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03572.x
- Issue published online: 3 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 15 DEC 2010
- Received: 20 September 2010, Accepted: 12 October 2010
- buckling safety factor;
- stem form;
- tension wood;
- transgenic poplar;
- wood stiffness;
- wood strength
- •Reduced lignin content in perennial crops has been sought as a means to improve biomass processability for paper and biofuels production, but it is unclear how this could affect wood properties and tree form.
- •Here, we studied a nontransgenic control and 14 transgenic events containing an antisense 4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase (4CL) to discern the consequences of lignin reduction in poplar (Populus sp.). During the second year of growth, trees were grown either free-standing in a field trial or affixed to stakes in a glasshouse.
- •Reductions in lignin of up to 40% gave comparable losses in wood strength and stiffness. This occurred despite the fact that low-lignin trees had a similar wood density and up to three-fold more tension wood. In free-standing and staked trees, the control line had twice the height for a given diameter as did low-lignin trees. Staked trees had twice the height for a given diameter as free-standing trees in the field, but did not differ in wood stiffness.
- •Variation in tree morphogenesis appears to be governed by lignin × environment interactions mediated by stresses exerted on developing cells. Therefore our results underline the importance of field studies for assessing the performance of transgenic trees with modified wood properties.