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Overproduction of fungal endo-β-1,4-glucanase leads to characteristic lignocellulose modification for considerably enhanced biomass enzymatic saccharification and bioethanol production in transgenic rice straw

  • Ying Li
  • Haiyan Sun
  • Chunfen Fan
  • Huizhen Hu
  • Leiming Wu
  • Xiaohuan Jin
  • Zhengyi Lv
  • Yanting Wang
  • Shengqiu Feng
  • Peng Chen
  • Liangcai PengEmail author
Original Research


Genetic modification of plant cell walls has been considered to reduce lignocellulose recalcitrance for enhanced biomass enzymatic saccharification and biofuel production in bioenergy crops. Although endo-β-1,4-glucanase (EG II) secreted by fungi has been broadly applied for enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose, it remains to explore its role in cellulose modification when the EG II gene is overexpressed in plant. In this study, we selected transgenic rice plants that overproduced Trichoderma reesei EG II enzyme specifically deposited into plant cell walls, and then examined much higher enzymatic activities by fourfold to fivefold in transgenic young seedlings than those of wild type in vitro. Notably, despite slightly altered cell wall compositions and polymer interlinkages relative to the wild type, the transgenic mature rice straw exhibited significantly reduced cellulose DP and CrI values and hemicellulosic Xyl/Ara ratio, leading to much increased biomass porosity. These should play integrated impact for enhanced biomass enzymatic saccharification and bioethanol production even under mild alkali pretreatment. Therefore, the results suggested that the EG II deposition should have enzymatic activity specific for minor-modification of cellulose microfibrils in transgenic rice plants. It has also provided a potential strategy for mild cell wall modification and optimal biomass process in rice and other bioenergy crops.


Cellulose features Biomass porosity Endo-β-1,4-glucanase Biomass saccharification Bioethanol 





Cellulose crystallinity index


Degree of polymerization






Scanning electron microscopy


Fourier transforms infrared



This work was in part supported by Grants from the National Science Foundation of China (31670296; 31571721), the National 111 Project (B08032), the National Transgenic Project (2009ZX08009-119B) and the Youth Fund of Jiangsu Province (BK20140417).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

10570_2019_2500_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPT 1302 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying Li
    • 1
  • Haiyan Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chunfen Fan
    • 1
    • 3
  • Huizhen Hu
    • 1
    • 4
  • Leiming Wu
    • 1
  • Xiaohuan Jin
    • 1
  • Zhengyi Lv
    • 1
  • Yanting Wang
    • 1
  • Shengqiu Feng
    • 1
  • Peng Chen
    • 1
  • Liangcai Peng
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Biomass and Bioenergy Research Centre, College of Plant Science and TechnologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of Biology and Food EngineeringChangshu Institute of TechnologyChangshuChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Eco-environments of Three Gorges Reservoir Region, Ministry of Education, Institute of Resources Botany, School of Life SciencesSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Biocatalysis and Enzyme Engineering, College of Life ScienceHubei UniversityWuhanChina

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