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Wout Boerjan

VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, BE

Wout Boerjan is a Professor at Ghent University and PI at the VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium, where he leads the Bioenergy and Bio-aromatics group. The major long-term goal of his group is to engineer plant cell wall composition for a more cost-effective conversion of plant biomass into fermentable sugars or aromatic building blocks. As lignin needs to be depolymerized for both purposes, research is focused on understanding the biosynthesis, polymerization and structure of lignin, and how lignin biosynthesis integrates into plant metabolism and development. Translational research is carried out in poplar and maize through experimental field trials. In addition to lignin and cell wall polysaccharides, plant biomass also contains thousands of molecules of which the structures, and hence the biological roles, have remained unknown. The group has a major activity in discovering these metabolites, along with their biosynthetic pathways and genes. Together, his group’s efforts aim at underpinning the transition from a fossil-based to a sustainable bio-economy

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