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1.  Manipulating cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) expression in flax affects fibre composition and properties 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:50.
In recent decades cultivation of flax and its application have dramatically decreased. One of the reasons for this is unpredictable quality and properties of flax fibre, because they depend on environmental factors, retting duration and growing conditions. These factors have contribution to the fibre composition, which consists of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin and pectin. By far, it is largely established that in flax, lignin reduces an accessibility of enzymes either to pectin, hemicelluloses or cellulose (during retting or in biofuel synthesis and paper production).
Therefore, in this study we evaluated composition and properties of flax fibre from plants with silenced CAD (cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase) gene, which is key in the lignin biosynthesis. There is evidence that CAD is a useful tool to improve lignin digestibility and/or to lower the lignin levels in plants.
Two studied lines responded differentially to the introduced modification due to the efficiency of the CAD silencing. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that flax CAD belongs to the “bona-fide” CAD family. CAD down-regulation had an effect in the reduced lignin amount in the flax fibre cell wall and as FT-IR results suggests, disturbed lignin composition and structure. Moreover introduced modification activated a compensatory mechanism which was manifested in the accumulation of cellulose and/or pectin. These changes had putative correlation with observed improved fiber’s tensile strength. Moreover, CAD down-regulation did not disturb at all or has only slight effect on flax plants’ development in vivo, however, the resistance against flax major pathogen Fusarium oxysporum decreased slightly. The modification positively affected fibre possessing; it resulted in more uniform retting.
The major finding of our paper is that the modification targeted directly to block lignin synthesis caused not only reduced lignin level in fibre, but also affected amount and organization of cellulose and pectin. However, to conclude that all observed changes are trustworthy and correlated exclusively to CAD repression, further analysis of the modified plants genome is necessary. Secondly, this is one of the first studies on the crop from the low-lignin plants from the field trail which demonstrates that such plants could be successfully cultivated in a field.
PMCID: PMC3945063  PMID: 24552628
Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD); Lignin; Cell wall; Flax fibre; Linum usitatissimum; L
2.  Fibres from flax overproducing β-1,3-glucanase show increased accumulation of pectin and phenolics and thus higher antioxidant capacity 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:10.
Recently, in order to improve the resistance of flax plants to pathogen infection, transgenic flax that overproduces β-1,3-glucanase was created. β-1,3-glucanase is a PR protein that hydrolyses the β-glucans, which are a major component of the cell wall in many groups of fungi. For this study, we used fourth-generation field-cultivated plants of the Fusarium -resistant transgenic line B14 to evaluate how overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene influences the quantity, quality and composition of flax fibres, which are the main product obtained from flax straw.
Overproduction of β-1,3-glucanase did not affect the quantity of the fibre obtained from the flax straw and did not significantly alter the essential mechanical characteristics of the retted fibres. However, changes in the contents of the major components of the cell wall (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin) were revealed. Overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene resulted in higher cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin contents and a lower lignin content in the fibres. Increases in the uronic acid content in particular fractions (with the exception of the 1 M KOH-soluble fraction of hemicelluloses) and changes in the sugar composition of the cell wall were detected in the fibres of the transgenic flax when compared to the contents for the control plants. The callose content was lower in the fibres of the transgenic flax. Additionally, the analysis of phenolic compound contents in five fractions of the cell wall revealed important changes, which were reflected in the antioxidant potential of these fractions.
Overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene has a significant influence on the biochemical composition of flax fibres. The constitutive overproduction of β-1,3-glucanase causes a decrease in the callose content, and the resulting excess glucose serves as a substrate for the production of other polysaccharides. The monosaccharide excess redirects the phenolic compounds to bind with polysaccharides instead of to partake in lignin synthesis. The mechanical properties of the transgenic fibres are strengthened by their improved biochemical composition, and the increased antioxidant potential of the fibres supports the potential use of transgenic flax fibres for biomedical applications.
PMCID: PMC3598203  PMID: 23394294
Biopolymers; Fibres; Flax; Linum usitatissimum
4.  Flavonoid engineering of flax potentiate its biotechnological application 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:10.
Flavonoids are a group of secondary plant metabolites important for plant growth and development. They show also a protective effect against colon and breast cancer, diabetes, hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis, lupus nephritis, and immune and inflammatory reactions. Thus, overproduction of these compounds in flax by genetic engineering method might potentiate biotechnological application of these plant products.
Flax plants of third generation overexpressing key genes of flavonoid pathway cultivated in field were used as plant material throughout this study. The biochemical properties of seed, oil and seedcake extracts and fibre from natural and transgenic flax plants were compared. The data obtained suggests that the introduced genes were stably inherited and expressed through plant generations.
Overproduction of flavonoid compounds resulted in increase of fatty acids accumulation in oil from transgenic seeds due to protection from oxidation offered during synthesis and seed maturation. The biochemical analysis of seedcake extracts from seeds of transgenic flax revealed significant increase in flavonoids (kaempferol), phenolic acids (coumaric, ferulic, synapic acids) and lignan content. Fibres, another product of flax plant showed increase in the level of catechine and acetylvanillone and decrease in phenolic acids upon flax modification.
Biochemical analysis results were confirmed using IR spectroscopy. The integral intensities of IR bands have been used for identification of the component of phenylpropanoid pathway in oil, seedcake extract and fibre from control and transgenic flax. It was shown that levels of flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignans in oil and seedcake extract was higher in transgenic flax products compared to control. An FT-IR study of fibres confirmed the biochemical data and revealed that the arrangement of the cellulose polymer in the transgenic fibres differs from the control; in particular a significant decrease in the number of hydrogen bonds was detected.
All analysed products from generated transgenic plants were enriched with antioxidant compounds derived from phenylopropanoid pathway Thus the products provide valuable source of flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignan for biomedical application. The compounds composition and quantity from transgenic plants was confirmed by IR spectroscopy. Thus the infrared spectroscopy appeared to be suitable method for characterization of flax products.
PMCID: PMC3040132  PMID: 21276227

Results 1-4 (4)