Dr. Matthieu Bourdon … at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research– and colleagues have taken a different approach to understanding woody biomass. They took callose, a polymer that is naturally occurring in some cell walls of plants, and successfully engineered it into the specialised secondary cell walls of plants — the wood. Published in Nature Plants, 2023, the research involving international collaborations across multiple institutes shows callose-enriched wood is much more easily converted into simple sugars and bioethanol than non-engineered wood. …the team found callose-enriched wood showed interesting new properties, like an increased hygroscopicity and porosity, which makes the polymers more accessible for extracting and converting into simpler building blocks like sugars or bioethanol. …“We foresee that our engineered wood will benefit biomaterials and biofuels production relying on biomass deconstruction and polymer accessibility, such as packaging materials or even advanced biomaterials like cellulose nanofibrils and delignified wood,” Dr Bourdon said.