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Cell wall lignin

Lignin is a strengthening and waterproofing polymer that encrusts the sugar-based polymers in plant cell walls, making them hard to access for biofuel production. Our challenge is to discover how the properties of lignin in barley straw can be changed, to make it easier to produce biofuel (or bioenergy) from this waste material without having any detrimental effects on the yield or quality of the crop.

Aims and objectives

We aim to help make second generation biofuels both feasible and competitive by:

  • Identifying the best barley varieties forbioenergy applications and determining how lignin content and structure influence the combustion properties, and the efficiency of biofuel production, of straw
  • Isolating genes and genetic markers associated with high biofuel yields that will be valuable tools for subsequent breeding of other improved energy crops, such as willow and miscanthus

Key resources and technologies

  • Lignin biology and chemistry expertise
  • Barley genetics/genomics
  • Systems biology
  • Extensive collections of barley elite varieties, landraces, mutants and an association genetics panel
  • Crop transformation
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland (BioSS)

Programme lead

  • University of Dundee at SCRI

Associated programme members

  • The University of York
  • SCRI
  • Limagrain UK Ltd
  • AgroParisTec-INRA joint Research Unit of Biological Chemistry
  • VIB, Ghent University