Mr Sung Hyu Luke Kim

PhD student


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Primary Supervisor
Sanushka Naidoo

Woody plants cell walls comprise one of the largest sources of renewable biomass and holds important environmental and economic roles. The increasing demand of plant-based resources requires the bio-based industries to separate the cell wall polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, lignin, and proteins) into the individual component without compromising the quality.

Xylans are the most abundant hemicellulose in the secondary cell walls of dicotyledonous plants and have significant roles in the biomass recalcitrance. Xylan backbones are highly substituted with various side chains including O-acetylation, [4-O-methyl]-a-d-glucuronoic acids ([Me]GlcA) and these side chains are thought to contribute towards the interaction of xylan with other cell wall polymers.

However, the mechanism of these interactions is poorly understood, more importantly, we lack knowledge of the roles of xylan in biomass recalcitrance.

MSc research focuses on elucidating the biological and industrial outcomes of knocking-out the xylan O-acetylation and [Me]GlcA substitution genes using state-of-the-art CRISPR/Cas9 technology. We primarily aim to evaluate the effect of the knock-out on the plant morphology, wood properties, and biomass yield. Engineering of xylan will provide biotechnology solutions for sustainable and economic biomass utilisation.