Cell Wall Biology and Engineering

Developing improved biofuel crops requires a better understanding of cell wall biosynthesis and the role of cell wall polymers in plant growth and development. The Cell Wall Biology and Engineering Group is identifying the enzymes and regulatory proteins required for the biosynthesis of polysaccharides and glycoproteins in the cell wall. This knowledge is being used to modify the composition of cell walls in plants for improved production of biofuels and bioproducts. Furthermore, the group is introducing metabolic pathways to modify lignin or accumulate bioproduct precursors in bioenergy crops. Because altered cell walls can influence plants in multiple ways, it is important to ensure that engineered plants with modified cell walls or bioproducts are robust and high-yielding under conditions prevailing in the field. The Cell Wall Biology and Engineering Group is specifically studying how cell wall changes may impact the response of plants to drought and pathogens as well as the interactions with beneficial microorganisms, especially arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.


  • Structure and function of glycosyltransferases, nucleotide sugar transporters and regulatory proteins involved in biosynthesis of hemicellulose, pectin and other glycans
  • Engineering of plants with modified polysaccharide composition and increased content of easily fermentable sugars
  • Engineering of plants that accumulate valuable bioproducts or bioproduct precursors
  • The impact of cell wall composition on interactions between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia
  • The impact of cell wall composition on drought tolerance
  • The effect of cell wall engineering on susceptibility to anthracnose

Non-JBEI Projects

  • Biosynthesis and glycosylation of bioactive secondary metabolites from plants
  • Cell surface interactions with microbial communities

Featured Publications

Featured Intellectual Property