Professor, Biochemistry; Plants Leader, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
John Ralph's research group is recognized for their work on lignin biosynthesis, including delineation of the pathways of monolignol synthesis, lignin chemistry, and lignin reactions. Ralph has also defined the chemical effects of perturbing lignin biosynthesis, and extnesions of this work are aimed at redesigning lignins to be more readily degraded. To that end, Ralph's group has developed synthetic methods for biosynthetic products, precursors, intermediate, molecular markers, cell wall model compounds, etc. They have developed particularly relevant methods for solution-state NMR of lignins, including whole-cell-wall methods that require no pre-factionation of wall components, and chemical/degradative, NMR, GC-MS combinatorial methods for cell wall cross-linking mechanisms and wall structual analysis.