Enzyme Identified for Making Key Industrial Chemical in Plants
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Tailoring levels of enzyme has many potential applications, including renewable production of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, improved biofuel production and/or timber durability, and a path for long-term carbon sequestration.Scientists studying the biochemistry of plant cell walls have identified an enzyme that could turn woody poplar trees into a source for producing a major industrial chemical. The research, just published in Nature Plants, could lead to a new sustainable pathway for making “p-hydroxybenzoic acid,” a chemical building block currently derived from fossil fuels, in plant biomass.“P-hydroxybenzoic acid is a versatile chemical feedstock. It can serve as a building block for making liquid crystals, a plasticizer of nylon resin, a sensitizer for thermal paper, and a raw material for making paraben, dyes, and pigments,” said Chang-Jun Liu, a plant biochemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and lead author on the paper.