Clint Chapple is a biochemist known for his work on plant secondary metabolism. His work on the biosynthesis of the plant cell wall polymer lignin has contributed to our understanding of how lignin content and composition can be manipulated in plants, which has implications for the use of lignocellulosic feedstocks in industry and agriculture. Chapple spent his early years in Southern Ontario where he grew up in London and attended the University of Guelph from which he received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in botany and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1989. Chapple did his post-doctoral research at Michigan State University in the Department of Energy Plant Research Lab. He joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University where he served as department head from 2008 to 2015. From 2015-2020 her served as Director of the Purdue Center for Plant Biology. Chapple has been acknowledged with a number of awards from Purdue University, including the Herbert Newby McCoy Award, and was recently inducted into Purdue University’s Book of Great Teachers. In 2002, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2020 a Fellow of the American Association of Plant Biologists. He has served on the editorial boards of The Plant Journal, Plant Physiology, The Plant Cell, and Annual Reviews of Plant Biology.

Research Interests

Clint Chapple's laboratory has explored the phenylpropanoid pathway using biochemical genetic approaches in Arabidopsis, with particular interests in the biosynthesis and manipulation of the cell wall polymer lignin. Their work has demonstrated that lignin subunit monomer composition is highly plastic, and this characteristic has enabled them to generate plants that deposit lignins entirely derived from p-hydroxyphenyl (H), guaiacyl (G) or syringyl (S) subunits, instead of the H/G/S co-polymer typical of angiosperms. They successful applied the high S lignin strategy to industrially relevant species such as poplar where it improves biomass processing traits associated with paper and biofuel production. Chapple's lab has also pursued evolutionary aspects of phenylpropanoid metabolism and demonstrated that Lycophytes acquired the capability to deposit S lignin through convergent evolution. The Chapple lab has also focused on the biosynthesis of soluble phenylpropanoids such as sinapoylmalate, which is a major UV protectant made in leaves of Arabidopsis. This work demonstrated that serine carboxypeptidase like proteins have neofunctionalized as acyltransferases in plant metabolism and that neofunctionalization of an enzyme of lignin biosynthesis led to the accumulation of new secondary metabolites in Arabidopsis that have been named arabidopyrones.

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Primary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry