Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation

Our Mission

CLSF (Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation) is a DOE Energy Frontiers Research Center focused on developing a detailed understanding of lignocellulose, the main structural material in plants, from cellulose synthesis and fibril formation to a mature plant cell wall, forming a foundation for significant advancement in sustainable energy and materials.

> Read more about our Research including our recent publications on our Research page.

Latest News

  • A rendering of cellulose

    Coarse grained representation of cellulose synthase complex with emerging microfibrils in gold. Image credit: Yara Yingling

  • Yunzhen Zheng places samples in a petri dish.

    Onion epithelial peels are prepared by technologist Yunzhen Zheng to be examined with electron microscopy.

  • Researchers in glasses observing a test on the SFG instrument.

    Yong Bum Park and Chris Lee of the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation are utilizing sum-frequency-generation (SFG) vibration spectroscopy to selectively detect crystalline cellulose in lignocellulosic matierals.

  • The spatial relationship of three fluorescent protein fusions in a cell suggest that CSI proteins, which associate with cellulose synthase complexes, travel along the underlying microtubule cytoskeleton. Image credit Lei Lei and Ying Gu

  • Lei Lei looking through a microscope.

    Lei Lei and other members of the Ying Gu lab work to obtain spatial information about the cellulose synthase complexes through live imaging of plant cells with the aid of spinning disk confocal microscopy.

  • A computer rendering of lignocellulose

    A digitally rendered illustration of the lignocellulose matrix based on current models. Image credit: Thomas Splettstößer,

  • Arielle Chaves

    Venu Vandavasi mounts protein crystals for data collection on X-ray diffractometer at ORNL.

  • Two researchers working in the CLSF lab.

    The central laboratory facility of CLFS at the University Park campus of Penn State houses specialty instruments including an atomic force microscope (AFM), which allows researchers to visualize plant cell wall architecture in the nano scale, identify and collect proteins using our fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) system, and identify organic compounds using our reverse-phase high performance chromatography (HPLC) system. Pictured are Tian Zhang (L) and Laura Ulrich.

  • Putative molecular model of a single CESA associated with the plasma membrane. CESA has not yet been crystalized, but new ab initio computational protein folding reveals the approximate 3D CESA structure, which in turn clarifies how it functions.

  • Arielle Chaves

    Arielle Chaves undertakes a series of CESA domain swap and site-directed mutagenesis experiments in Physcomitrella patens in the Roberts lab at University of Rhode Island.

  • A computer rendering of photons

    CLSF's Poetry of Science entry "Afterlife of a photon" describes the journey of a photon who finds itself trapped in cellulose. Image credit: Jochen Zimmer

  • Two CLSF researchers working in the lab.

    The central laboratory facility of CLSF is utilized by many researchers; here our members can analyze plant cell wall components, observe protein-protein interactions and separate carbohydrate substances by using specialty instruments. These instruments include an Infrared and Raman spectrometer, an isothermal microcalorimeter, and an ion-exchange chromatography system, to name a few. Pictured are Liza Wilson (L) and Sarah Kiemle.

  • Two CLSF researchers working in the lab.

    Researchers in the Haigler Lab are performing cryo-fracture deep-etch transmission electron microscopy in combination with immunolabeling of particular protein constituents to explore further the composition and function of the cellulose synthesizing complex.

  • magazine cover.

    A very approachable Penn State Research article highlights the research of several CLSF researchers at Penn State: "The key to efficient biofuels may lie in learning how plants build their cell wall." Full story: