Michelle von Loessl

Michelle von Loessl

Former Mansfield Lab MSc  (Jan 2014 – April 2017)

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellevl

June 2019 – Teaching Biology, College of Education in Thurgau, Switzerland


Acylated Monolignols: Identifying a p-hydroxybenzoyl-CoA monolignol transferase

Research Interests

My research interest is lignin; specifically I am aiming to better understand the plasticity that exists in the polymerization of lignin monomers to form the lignin polymer. Lignin is a complex cell wall biopolymer essential for normal plant development and survival because it imparts strength and rigidity to the cell wall which are necessary for plant growth and defense. In the pulp and paper industry, lignin must be chemically separated from the wood carbohydrates, requiring large amounts of energy and harsh, expensive chemicals. For similar reasons, lignin is also an obstacle to the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic materials, where it hinders the enzymatic digestion of cell wall carbohydrates. Though the lignin polymer is made up mainly of the three “traditional” lignin subunits, it has become clear that lignin incorporates a greater variety of monomers. Some monomers are acylated with one of a variety of acids, forming monolignol conjugates which then polymerize into the lignin backbone. The formation of pre-acylated monolignols infers the action of monolignol transferase enzymes, some of which have been discovered, while others have eluded us. My Master’s project aims to identify the gene encoding for the p-hydroxybenzoyl-CoA monolignol transferase (pHBMT) from poplar through in-depth analysis RNA sequencing data, misregulating the candidate in poplar and A. thaliana, and then analyzing the resulting wood chemistry.


BSc Major, Biology, specializing in Ecology and Environmental Biology, UBC (2013)

Selected Publications and Conference Presentations

von Loessl M, Unda F,  Samuels LA, Mansfield SD (2015) Poster presentation.Acylating lignin monomers: Identifying a p-hydroxybenzoate monolignol transferase. Gordon Research Conference: Plant Cell Walls Bentley University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA July 12-17, 2015.

Awards, Grants, Scholarships

  • Donald S McPhee Fellowship, UBC  (2015)
  • NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA), UBC (2013)
  • Science Scholar Dean’s Honour List, UBC  (2013)
  • President’s Entrance Scholarship, UBC (2008)