Lisanne de Vries, first author of “pHBMT1, a BAHD-family monolignol acyltransferase, mediates lignin acylation in poplar”
Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada)
Education: PhD in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Gent (Belgium)
Non-scientific interests: Hiking, cycling and playing the clarinet
Brief bio: I obtained my PhD in the bio-energy and bio-aromatics lab of Prof. Dr. Wout Boerjan (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology). After my PhD, I continued to focus on my scientific interest, genetic engineering of lignocellulosic biomass, in the lab of Prof. Dr. Shawn Mansfield (University of British Columbia). My current objective is to alter the chemical composition of lignin in the plants, making it more easily degradable and of higher value for the bio-refinery. For example, in this paper we identified the poplar gene pHBMT1 that is responsible for the biosynthesis of monolignol–p-hydroxybenzoates. As these p-hydroxybenzoate moieties are ester linked, saponification releases these pendent groups. p-Hydroxybenzoate is a precursor to parabens, used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. By overexpressing this gene in lignocellulosic biomass, we could therefore increase its value for the biorefinery.