SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Mozhdeh Sadat Faraji Mosalman
TIME: Monday, March 2, 2015, 2:30 p.m.
PLACE: MSE Building, 3201a
TITLE: Computational Inference of the Structure and Regulation of the Lignin Pathway in Panicum virgatum
COMMITTEE: Dr. Eberhard O. Voit, Chair (BME)
Dr. Andreas S. Bommarius (CHBE)
Dr. Michael J. Leamy (ME)
Dr. Pamela Peralta-Yahya (CHBE)
Dr. Peng Qiu (BME)


Switchgrass is a prime target for biofuel production from inedible plant parts and has been the subject of numerous investigations in recent years. Yet, one of the main obstacles to effective biofuel production remains to be the major problem of recalcitrance. Recalcitrance emerges in part from the 3-D structure of lignin as a polymer in the secondary cell wall. Lignin limits accessibility of the sugars in the cellulose and hemicellulose polymers to enzymes and ultimately decreases ethanol yield. Monolignols, the building blocks of lignin polymers, are synthesized in the cytosol and translocated to the plant cell wall, where they undergo polymerization. The biosynthetic pathway leading to monolignols in switchgrass is not completely known, and difficulties associated with in vivo measurements of these intermediates pose a challenge for a true understanding of the functioning of the pathway. The proposed work aims to apply a systems biological modeling approach to address this challenge.