With a new method to synthesize a popular pain-relieving medication from plants rather than fossil fuels, biochemistry and energy researchers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have found a way to relieve two headaches at once.
Scientists at UW–Madison and the GLBRC with partners at the Center for Bioenergy Innovationm have shown that a recently-discovered variety of the substance, catechyl lignin, has attributes that could make it well-suited as the starting point for a range of bioproducts.
Rebecca Smith, a staff scientist in professor John Ralph’s lab, studies lignin.
A new study shows that poplar trees and many other plants from all over the phylogenetic tree have actually evolved to naturally produce zip-lignin. In other words, not only can we potentially breed for degradability in plants, but humans may have been doing just that – selecting certain plants for easier processing – for thousands of years.