Nature Reviews Genetics 9, 433-443 (June 2008) | doi:10.1038/nrg2336

There is a Retraction (April 2010) associated with this article.

Focus on: Global Challenges

Plant genetic engineering for biofuel production: towards affordable cellulosic ethanol

Mariam B. Sticklen1  About the author


Biofuels provide a potential route to avoiding the global political instability and environmental issues that arise from reliance on petroleum. Currently, most biofuel is in the form of ethanol generated from starch or sugar, but this can meet only a limited fraction of global fuel requirements. Conversion of cellulosic biomass, which is both abundant and renewable, is a promising alternative. However, the cellulases and pretreatment processes involved are very expensive. Genetically engineering plants to produce cellulases and hemicellulases, and to reduce the need for pretreatment processes through lignin modification, are promising paths to solving this problem, together with other strategies, such as increasing plant polysaccharide content and overall biomass.

Author affiliations

  1. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


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