We would like to thank the European Community (DGXII) for its support of the OPLIGE "ECLAIR programme (Contract n° AGRE-CT92-0021 )" and TIMBER "FAIR programme (Contract n° FAIR-CT95-0424) (DGXII)" projects. The collaboration of Christine Guidice in the preparation of this chapter is acknowledged.

Noted added in proof: After the writing of this chapter several new results have been obtained concerning the lignin biosynthetic pathway: the gene encoding 4-coumarate 3-hydroxylase has been characterized: Schoch et al. J Biol Chem 276(29):36566-36574, 2001. A new gene encoding a hydroxycinnamyl dehydrogenase converting specifically sinapaldehyde into synapyl alcohol (the SAD gene) has been discovered: Li et al. Plant Cell 13:1-20, 2001. Finally several arguments support the idea that free sinapic acid is not a precursor of monolignols: Harding et al. Plant Physiol 128(2): 428-438, 2002.

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