Timothy J Tschaplinski

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (141)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Higher ratios of syringyl-to-guaiacyl (S/G) lignin components of Populus were shown to improve sugar release by enzymatic hydrolysis using commercial blends. Cellulolytic microbes are often robust biomass hydrolyzers and may offer cost advantages; however, it is unknown whether their activity can also be significantly influenced by the ratio of different monolignol types in Populus biomass. Hydrolysis and fermentation of autoclaved, but otherwise not pretreated Populus trichocarpa by Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 was compared using feedstocks that had similar carbohydrate and total lignin contents but differed in S/G ratios. Populus with an S/G ratio of 2.1 was converted more rapidly and to a greater extent compared to similar biomass that had a ratio of 1.2. For either microbes or commercial enzymes, an approximate 50 % relative difference in total solids solubilization was measured for both biomasses, which suggests that the differences and limitations in the microbial breakdown of lignocellulose may be largely from the enzymatic hydrolytic process. Surprisingly, the reduction in glucan content per gram solid in the residual microbially processed biomass was similar (17–18 %) irrespective of S/G ratio, pointing to a similar mechanism of solubilization that proceeded at different rates. Fermentation metabolome testing did not reveal the release of known biomass-derived alcohol and aldehyde inhibitors that could explain observed differences in microbial hydrolytic activity. Biomass-derived p-hydroxybenzoic acid was up to nine-fold higher in low S/G ratio biomass fermentations, but was not found to be inhibitory in subsequent test fermentations. Cellulose crystallinity and degree of polymerization did not vary between Populus lines and had minor changes after fermentation. However, lignin molecular weights and cellulose accessibility determined by Simons’ staining were positively correlated to the S/G content. Higher S/G ratios in Populus biomass lead to longer and more linear lignin chains and greater access to surface cellulosic content by microbe-bound enzymatic complexes. Substrate access limitation is suggested as a primary bottleneck in solubilization of minimally processed Populus, which has important implications for microbial deconstruction of lignocellulose biomass. Our findings will allow others to examine different Populus lines and to test if similar observations are possible for other plant species.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2016 · Biotechnology for Biofuels
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lignins from various poplar genotypes were isolated by using organosolv fractionation and subjected to rheological treatment at various temperatures. Physicochemical characterization of the lignin variants shows a broad distribution of glass transition temperatures, melt viscosity, and pyrolysis char residues. Rheological treatment at 170 °C induces lignin repolymerization accompanied with an increase in condensed linkages, molecular weights, and viscosities. In contrast, rheology testing at 190 °C results in the decrease in lignin aliphatic and phenolic hydroxyl groups, β-O-aryl ether linkages, molecular weights, and viscosity values. Lignin under air cooling generates more oxygenated and condensed compounds, but lower amounts of ether linkages than lignin cooled under nitrogen. Lignin with a lower syringyl/guaiacyl ratio tends to form more cross-linkages along with higher viscosity values, higher molecular weight and larger amounts of condensed bonds.
    Full-text Article · May 2016 · Green Chemistry
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    Full-text Dataset · Apr 2016
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    Full-text Dataset · Apr 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biological function of the plant-microbiome system is the result of contributions from the host plant and microbiome members. The Populus root microbiome is a diverse community that has high abundance of β- and γ-Proteobacteria, both classes which include multiple plant-growth promoting representatives. To understand the contribution of individual microbiome members in a community, we studied the function of a simplified community consisting of Pseudomonas and Burkholderia bacterial strains isolated from Populus hosts and inoculated on axenic Populus cutting in controlled laboratory conditions. Both strains increased lateral root formation and root hair production in Arabidopsis plate assays and are predicted to encode for different functions related to growth and plant growth promotion in Populus hosts. Inoculation individually, with either bacterial isolate, increased root growth relative to uninoculated controls, and while root area was increased in mixed inoculation, the interaction term was insignificant indicating additive effects of root phenotype. Complementary data including photosynthetic efficiency, whole-transcriptome gene expression and GC-MS metabolite expression data in individual and mixed inoculated treatments indicate that the effects of these bacterial strains are unique and additive. These results suggest that the function of a microbiome community may be predicted from the additive functions of the individual members. © 2016 Timm, Pelletier, Jawdy, Gunter, Henning, Engle, Aufrecht, Gee, Nookaew, Yang, Lu, Tschaplinski, Doktycz, Tuskan and Weston.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2016 · Frontiers in Plant Science
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The complex interactions between plants and their microbiome can have a profound effect on the health and productivity of the plant host. A better understanding of the microbial mechanisms that promote plant health and stress tolerance will enable strategies for improving the productivity of economically important plants. Pantoea sp. YR343 is a motile, rod-shaped bacterium isolated from the roots of Populus deltoides that possesses the ability to solubilize phosphate and produce the phytohormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). Pantoea sp. YR343 readily colonizes plant roots and does not appear to be pathogenic when applied to the leaves or roots of selected plant hosts. To better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in plant association and rhizosphere survival by Pantoea sp. YR343, we constructed a mutant in which the crtB gene encoding phytoene synthase was deleted. Phytoene synthase is responsible for converting geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate to phytoene, an important precursor to the production of carotenoids. As predicted, the ΔcrtB mutant is defective in carotenoid production, and shows increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. Moreover, we find that the ΔcrtB mutant is impaired in biofilm formation and production of IAA. Finally we demonstrate that the ΔcrtB mutant shows reduced colonization of plant roots. Taken together, these data suggest that carotenoids are important for plant association and/or rhizosphere survival in Pantoea sp. YR343.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2016 · Frontiers in Microbiology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) salicylic acid methyl transferase (GmSAMT1) catalyzes the conversion of salicylic acid to methyl salicylate. Prior results showed that when GmSAMT1 was overexpressed in transgenic soybean hairy roots, resistance is conferred against soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines Ichinohe. In the current study, we produced transgenic soybean overexpressing GmSAMT1 and characterized their response to various SCN races. Transgenic plants conferred a significant reduction in the development of SCN HG type (race 2), HG type 0 (race 3), and HG type 2.5.7 (race 5). Among transgenic lines, GmSAMT1 expression in roots was positively associated with SCN resistance. In some transgenic lines, there was a significant decrease in salicylic acid titer relative to control plants. No significant seed yield differences were observed between transgenics and control soybean plants grown in one greenhouse with 22°C day/night temperature, whereas transgenic soybean had higher yield than controls grown a warmer greenhouse (27°C day/ 23°C night) temperatures. In a one-year field experiment in Knoxville, Tenn., USA, there was no significant difference in seed yield between the transgenic and non-transgenic soybean under conditions with negligible SCN infection. We hypothesize that GmSAMT1 expression affects salicylic acid biosynthesis, which, in turn, attenuates SCN development, without negative consequences to soybean yield or other morphological traits. Thus, we conclude that GmSAMT1 overexpression confers broad resistance to multiple SCN races, which would be potentially applicable to commercial production. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Article · Apr 2016 · Plant Biotechnology Journal
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plant laccases are thought to function in the oxidation of monolignols which leads to higher order lignin formation. Only a hand-full of laccases in plants have been functionally evaluated and as such little is known about the breadth of their impact on cell wall chemistry or structure. Here we describe a previously uncharacterized laccase from Populus, encoded by locus Potri.008G064000, whose reduced expression resulted in transgenic Populus trees with changes in syringyl/guaiacyl (S/G) ratios as well as altered sugar release phenotypes. These phenotypes are consistent with plant biomass exhibiting reduced recalcitrance. Interestingly, the transgene effect on recalcitrance is dependent on a mild pretreatment prior to chemical extraction of sugars. Metabolite profiling suggests the transgene modulates phenolics that are associated with the cell wall structure. We propose that this particular laccase has a range of functions related to oxidation of phenolics and conjugation of flavonoids that interact with lignin in the cell wall. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2016 · Plant Biotechnology Journal
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    Devin H Currie · Babu Raman · Christopher M Gowen · [...] · Christopher D Herring
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum is a hemicellulose-degrading thermophilic anaerobe that was previously engineered to produce ethanol at high yield. A major project was undertaken to develop this organism into an industrial biocatalyst, but the lack of genome information and resources were recognized early on as a key limitation. Here we present a set of genome-scale resources to enable the systems level investigation and development of this potentially important industrial organism. Resources include a complete genome sequence for strain JW/SL-YS485, a genome-scale reconstruction of metabolism, tiled microarray data showing transcription units, mRNA expression data from 71 different growth conditions or timepoints and GC/MS-based metabolite analysis data from 42 different conditions or timepoints. Growth conditions include hemicellulose hydrolysate, the inhibitors HMF, furfural, diamide, and ethanol, as well as high levels of cellulose, xylose, cellobiose or maltodextrin. The genome consists of a 2.7 Mbp chromosome and a 110 Kbp megaplasmid. An active prophage was also detected, and the expression levels of CRISPR genes were observed to increase in association with those of the phage. Hemicellulose hydrolysate elicited a response of carbohydrate transport and catabolism genes, as well as poorly characterized genes suggesting a redox challenge. In some conditions, a time series of combined transcription and metabolite measurements were made to allow careful study of microbial physiology under process conditions. As a demonstration of the potential utility of the metabolic reconstruction, the OptKnock algorithm was used to predict a set of gene knockouts that maximize growth-coupled ethanol production. The predictions validated intuitive strain designs and matched previous experimental results. These data will be a useful asset for efforts to develop T. saccharolyticum for efficient industrial production of biofuels. The resources presented herein may also be useful on a comparative basis for development of other lignocellulose degrading microbes, such as Clostridium thermocellum.
    Full-text Article · Jun 2015 · BMC Systems Biology
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    David J Weston · Alistair Rogers · Timothy J Tschaplinski · [...] · Stan D Wullschleger
    Full-text Dataset · Jun 2015
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    David J. Weston · Alistair Rogers · Timothy J. Tschaplinski · [...] · Stan D. Wullschleger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the consequences of elevated CO2 (eCO2; 800 ppm) on terrestrial ecosystems is a central theme in global change biology, but relatively little is known about how altered plant C and N metabolism influences higher levels of biological organization. Here, we investigate the consequences of C and N interactions by genetically modifying the N-assimilation pathway in Arabidopsis and initiating growth chamber and mesocosm competition studies at current CO2 (cCO2; 400 ppm) and eCO2 over multiple generations. Using a suite of ecological, physiological, and molecular genomic tools, we show that a single-gene mutant of a key enzyme (nia2) elicited a highly orchestrated buffering response starting with a fivefold increase in the expression of a gene paralog (nia1) and a 63% increase in the expression of gene network module enriched for N-assimilation genes. The genetic perturbation reduced amino acids, protein, and TCA-cycle intermediate concentrations in the nia2 mutant compared to the wild-type, while eCO2 mainly increased carbohydrate concentrations. The mutant had reduced net photosynthetic rates due to a 27% decrease in carboxylation capacity and an 18% decrease in electron transport rates. The expression of these buffering mechanisms resulted in a penalty that negatively correlated with fitness and population dynamics yet showed only minor alterations in our estimates of population function, including total per unit area biomass, ground cover, and leaf area index. This study provides insight into the consequences of buffering mechanisms that occur post-genetic perturbations in the N pathway and the associated outcomes these buffering systems have on plant populations relative to eCO2.
    Full-text Article · Jun 2015 · Ecology and Evolution
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aqueous extract of yerba mate, a South American tea beverage made from Ilex paraguariensis leaves, has demonstrated bactericidal and inhibitory activity against bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of two unique fractions of yerba mate aqueous extract revealed 8 identifiable small molecules in those fractions with antimicrobial activity. For a more comprehensive analysis, a data analysis pipeline was assembled to prioritize compounds for antimicrobial testing against both MRSA and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus using forty-two unique fractions of the tea extract that were generated in duplicate, assayed for activity, and analyzed with GC-MS. As validation of our automated analysis, we checked our predicted active compounds for activity in literature references and used authentic standards to test for antimicrobial activity. 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde showed the most antibacterial activity against MRSA at low concentrations in our bioassays. In addition, quinic acid and quercetin were identified using random forests analysis and 5-hydroxy pipecolic acid was identified using linear discriminant analysis. We also generated a ranked list of unidentified compounds that may contribute to the antimicrobial activity of yerba mate against MRSA. Here we utilized GC-MS data to implement an automated analysis that resulted in a ranked list of compounds that likely contribute to the antimicrobial activity of aqueous yerba mate extract against MRSA.
    Full-text Article · May 2015 · PLoS ONE
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies defined easy and difficult to hydrolyze fractions of hemicellulose that may result from bonds among cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. To understand how such bonds affect hydrolysis, Populus trichocarpa × Populus deltoides, holocellulose isolated from P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides and birchwood xylan were subjected to hydrothermal flow-through pretreatment. Samples were characterized by glycome profiling, HPLC, and UPLC–MS. Glycome profiling revealed steady fragmentation and removal of glycans from solids during hydrolysis. The extent of polysaccharide fragmentation, hydrolysis rate, and total xylose yield were lowest for P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides and greatest for birchwood xylan. Comparison of results from P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides and holocellulose suggested that lignin–carbohydrate complexes reduce hydrolysis rates and limit release of large xylooligomers. Smaller differences between results with holocellulose and birchwood xylan suggest xylan–cellulose hydrogen bonds limited hydrolysis, but to a lesser extent. These findings imply cell wall structure strongly influences hydrolysis.
    Article · Mar 2015 · Bioresource Technology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemical and physical pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass improves substrate reactivity for increased microbial biofuel production, but also restricts growth via the release of furan aldehydes, such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF). The physiological effects of these inhibitors on thermophilic, fermentative bacteria are important to understand; especially as cellulolytic strains are being developed for consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) of lignocellulosic feedstocks. Identifying mechanisms for detoxification of aldehydes in naturally resistant strains, such as Thermoanaerobacter spp., may also enable improvements in candidate CBP microorganisms. Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E, an anaerobic, saccharolytic thermophile, was found to grow readily in the presence of 30 mM furfural and 20 mM 5-HMF and reduce these aldehydes to their respective alcohols in situ. The proteomes of T. pseudethanolicus 39E grown in the presence or absence of 15 mM furfural were compared to identify upregulated enzymes potentially responsible for the observed reduction. A total of 225 proteins were differentially regulated in response to the 15 mM furfural treatment with 152 upregulated versus 73 downregulated. Only 87 proteins exhibited a twofold or greater change in abundance in either direction. Of these, 54 were upregulated in the presence of furfural and 33 were downregulated. Two oxidoreductases were upregulated at least twofold by furfural and were targeted for further investigation. Teth39_1597 encodes a predicted butanol dehydrogenase (BdhA) and Teth39_1598, a predicted aldo/keto reductase (AKR). Both genes were cloned from T. pseudethanolicus 39E, with the respective enzymes overexpressed in E. coli and specific activities determined against a variety of aldehydes. Overexpressed BdhA showed significant activity with all aldehydes tested, including furfural and 5-HMF, using NADPH as the cofactor. Cell extracts with AKR also showed activity with NADPH, but only with four-carbon butyraldehyde and isobutyraldehyde. T. pseudethanolicus 39E displays intrinsic tolerance to the common pretreatment inhibitors furfural and 5-HMF. Multidimensional proteomic analysis was used as an effective tool to identify putative mechanisms for detoxification of furfural and 5-HMF. T. pseudethanolicus was found to upregulate an NADPH-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase 6.8-fold in response to furfural. In vitro enzyme assays confirmed the reduction of furfural and 5-HMF to their respective alcohols.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2014 · Biotechnology for Biofuels
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Robust immunity requires basal defense machinery to mediate timely responses and feedback cycles to amplify defenses against potentially spreading infections. AGD2-LIKE DEFENSE RESPONSE PROTEIN 1 (ALD1) is needed for the accumulation of the plant defense signal salicylic acid (SA) during the first hours after infection with the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae and is also up-regulated by infection and SA. ALD1 is an aminotransferase with multiple substrates and products in vitro. Pipecolic acid (Pip) is an ALD1-dependent bioactive product induced by P. syringae. Here we addressed roles of ALD1 in mediating defense amplification as well as the levels and responses of basal defense machinery. ALD1 needs immune components PAD4 and ICS1 (an SA synthesis enzyme) to confer disease resistance, possibly through a transcriptional amplification loop between them. Furthermore, ALD1 affects basal defense by controlling microbial-associated molecular pattern (MAMP) receptor levels and responsiveness. Vascular exudates from uninfected ALD1-overexpressing plants confer local immunity to wild type and ald1 mutants, yet are not enriched for Pip. We infer that in addition to affecting Pip accumulation, ALD1 produces a non-Pip metabolite(s) that plays a role(s) in immunity. Thus, distinct metabolite signals controlled by the same enzyme affect basal and early defenses versus later defense responses, respectively.
    Article · Nov 2014 · Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
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    Evert K Holwerda · Philip G Thorne · Daniel G Olson · [...] · Lee R Lynd
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clostridium thermocellum is a model thermophilic organism for the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic substrates. The majority of publications studying the physiology of this organism use substrate concentrations of ≤10 g/L. However, industrially relevant concentrations of substrate start at 100 g/L carbohydrate, which corresponds to approximately 150 g/L solids. To gain insight into the physiology of fermentation of high substrate concentrations, we studied the growth on, and utilization of high concentrations of crystalline cellulose varying from 50 to 100 g/L by C. thermocellum. Using a defined medium, batch cultures of C. thermocellum achieved 93% conversion of cellulose (Avicel) initially present at 100 g/L. The maximum rate of substrate utilization increased with increasing substrate loading. During fermentation of 100 g/L cellulose, growth ceased when about half of the substrate had been solubilized. However, fermentation continued in an uncoupled mode until substrate utilization was almost complete. In addition to commonly reported fermentation products, amino acids - predominantly L-valine and L-alanine - were secreted at concentrations up to 7.5 g/L. Uncoupled metabolism was also accompanied by products not documented previously for C. thermocellum, including isobutanol, meso- and RR/SS-2,3-butanediol and trace amounts of 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol and 1-propanol. We hypothesize that C. thermocellum uses overflow metabolism to balance its metabolism around the pyruvate node in glycolysis. C. thermocellum is able to utilize industrially relevant concentrations of cellulose, up to 93 g/L. We report here one of the highest degrees of crystalline cellulose utilization observed thus far for a pure culture of C. thermocellum, the highest maximum substrate utilization rate and the highest amount of isobutanol produced by a wild-type organism.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · Biotechnology for Biofuels
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    Raja S Payyavula · Timothy J Tschaplinski · Sara S Jawdy · [...] · Udaya C Kalluri
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BackgroundUDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGPase) is a sugar-metabolizing enzyme (E.C. that catalyzes a reversible reaction of UDP-glucose and pyrophosphate from glucose-1-phosphate and UTP. UDP-glucose is a key intermediate sugar that is channeled to multiple metabolic pathways. The functional role of UGPase in perennial woody plants is poorly understood.ResultsWe characterized the functional role of a UGPase gene in Populus deltoides, PdUGPase2. Overexpression of the native gene resulted in increased leaf area and leaf-to-shoot biomass ratio but decreased shoot and root growth. Metabolomic analyses showed that manipulation of PdUGPase2 results in perturbations in primary, as well as secondary metabolism, resulting in reduced sugar and starch levels and increased phenolics, such as caffeoyl and feruloyl conjugates. While cellulose and lignin levels in the cell walls were not significantly altered, the syringyl-to-guaiacyl ratio was significantly reduced.Conclusions These results demonstrate that PdUGPase2 plays a key role in the tightly coupled primary and secondary metabolic pathways and perturbation in its function results in pronounced effects on growth and metabolism beyond cell wall biosynthesis of Populus.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · BMC Plant Biology

Publication Stats

5k Citations


  • 2006
    • University of Toronto
      • Faculty of Forestry
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2002
    • Colorado State University
      • Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management
      Fort Collins, CO, United States
  • 1998-2002
    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
      • Environmental Sciences Division
      Oak Ridge, Florida, United States