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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Characteristics of Cellulose Nanofibrils from Transgenic Trees with Reduced Expression of Cellulose Synthase Interacting 1

Jonasson, Simon; Bunder, Anne; Berglund, Linn; Niittyla, Totte; Oksman, Kristiina


Cellulose nanofibrils can be derived from the native load-bearing cellulose microfibrils in wood. These microfibrils are synthesized by a cellulose synthase enzyme complex that resides in the plasma membrane of developing wood cells. It was previously shown that transgenic hybrid aspen trees with reduced expression of CSI1 have different wood mechanics and cellulose microfibril properties. We hypothesized that these changes in the native cellulose may affect the quality of the corresponding nanofibrils. To test this hypothesis, wood from wild-type and transgenic trees with reduced expression of CSI1 was subjected to oxidative nanofibril isolation. The transgenic wood-extracted nanofibrils exhibited a significantly lower suspension viscosity and estimated surface area than the wild-type nanofibrils. Furthermore, the nanofibril networks manufactured from the transgenics exhibited high stiffness, as well as reduced water uptake, tensile strength, strain-to-break, and degree of polymerization. Presumably, the difference in wood properties caused by the decreased expression of CSI1 resulted in nanofibrils with distinctive qualities. The observed changes in the physicochemical properties suggest that the differences were caused by changes in the apparent nanofibril aspect ratio and surface accessibility. This study demonstrates the possibility of influencing wood-derived nanofibril quality through the genetic engineering of trees.


transgenic wood; cellulose nanofibrils; fibrillation; network properties

Published in

2022, Volume: 12, number: 19, article number: 3448
Publisher: MDPI