Navigation Links
Cow stomach holds key to turning corn into biofuel
Date:4/8/2008

An enzyme from a microbe that lives inside a cows stomach is the key to turning corn plants into fuel, according to Michigan State University scientists.

The enzyme that allows a cow to digest grasses and other plant fibers can be used to turn other plant fibers into simple sugars. These simple sugars can be used to produce ethanol to power cars and trucks.

MSU scientists have discovered a way to grow corn plants that contain this enzyme. They have inserted a gene from a bacterium that lives in a cows stomach into a corn plant. Now, the sugars locked up in the plants leaves and stalk can be converted into usable sugar without expensive synthetic chemicals.

The fact that we can take a gene that makes an enzyme in the stomach of a cow and put it into a plant cell means that we can convert what was junk before into biofuel, said Mariam Sticklen, MSU professor of crop and soil science. She is presenting at the 235th national American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans today. The work also is presented in the Plant Genetic Engineering for Biofuel Production: Towards Affordable Cellulosic Ethanol in the June edition of Nature Review Genetics.

Cows, with help from bacteria, convert plant fibers, called cellulose, into energy, but this is a big step for biofuel production. Traditionally in the commercial biofuel industry, only the kernels of corn plants could be used to make ethanol, but this new discovery will allow the entire corn plant to be used so more fuel can be produced with less cost.

Turning plant fibers into sugar requires three enzymes. The new variety of corn created for biofuel production, called Spartan Corn III, builds on Sticklens earlier corn versions by containing all three necessary enzymes.

The first version, released in 2007, cuts the cellulose into large pieces with an enzyme that came from a microbe that lives in hot spring water.

Spartan Corn II, with a gene from a naturally occurring fungus, takes the large cellulose pieces created by the first enzyme and breaks them into sugar pairs.

Spartan Corn III, with the gene from a microbe in a cow, produces an enzyme that separates pairs of sugar molecules into simple sugars. These single sugars are readily fermentable into ethanol, meaning that when the cellulose is in simple sugars, it can be fermented to make ethanol.

It will save money in ethanol production, Sticklen said. Without it they cant convert the waste into ethanol without buying enzymes which is expensive.

The Spartan Corn line was created by inserting an animal stomach microbe gene into a plant cell. The DNA assembly of the animal stomach microbe required heavy modification in the lab to make it work well in the corn cells. Sticklen compared the process to adding a single Christmas tree light to a tree covered in lights.

You have a lot of wiring, switches and even zoning, Sticklen said. There are a lot of changes. We have to increase production levels and even put it in the right place in the cell.

If the cell produced the enzyme in the wrong place, then the plant cell would not be able to function, and, instead, it would digest itself. That is why Sticklen found a specific place to insert the enzyme.

One of the targets for the enzyme produced in Spartan Corn III is a special part of the plant cell, called the vacuole. The vacuole is a safe place to store the enzyme until the plant is harvested. The enzyme will collect in the vacuole with other cellular waste products

Because it is only in the vacuole of the green tissues of plant cells, the enzyme is only produced in the leaves and stalks of the plant, not in the seeds, roots or the pollen. It is only active when it is being used for biofuels because of being stored in the vacuole

Spartan Corn III is one step ahead for science, technology, and it is even a step politically, Sticklen said. It is one step closer to producing fuel in our own country.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tom Oswald
oswald@msu.edu
517-432-0920
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Stomach stem cell discovery could bring cancer insights
2. Chlamy genome holds clues for renewable energy, the environment and human health
3. Stanfords nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones
4. Material Technologies Holds First Electrochemical Fatigue Sensor Training for Private Inspection Firms
5. Craniosynostosis minimally invasive surgery holds more promise than old procedure
6. Montana State University researcher finds renewed interest in turning algae into fuel
7. UCI and CODA Genomics collaborate to re-engineer yeast for biofuel production
8. To maximize biofuel potential, researchers look for sorghums sweet spot
9. Ceres and Texas A&M to develop and market high-biomass sorghum for biofuels
10. If corn is biofuels king, tropical maize may be emperor
11. The race for biofuels driving alternative sources of biomass
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Cow stomach holds key to turning corn into biofuel
(Date:2/8/2017)... Feb. 7, 2017 Report Highlights ... 2021 from $8.3 billion in 2016 at a compound ... 2021. Report Includes - An overview of the ... trends, with data from 2015 and 2016, and projections ... Segmentation of the market on the basis of product ...
(Date:2/3/2017)... Feb. 3, 2017  Texas Biomedical Research Institute announced that ... Larry Schlesinger as the Institute,s new President and CEO. ... May 31, 2017. He is currently the Chair of the ... Center for Microbial Interface Biology at Ohio State University. ... new President and CEO of Texas Biomed," said Dr. ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... Massachusetts , February 1, 2017 IDTechEx ... events on emerging technology, announces the availability of a new report, ... Continue Reading ... ... in industrial and collaborative robots. Source: IDTechEx Report "Sensors for Robotics: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/18/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... February 17, 2017 , ... ... and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) and the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant ... Center in Orlando, Fla. , The combined scientific sessions offer investigators, ...
(Date:2/18/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Nanobiotechnology ... ... separate comprehensive analytics for the US, Japan , ... and forecasts are provided for the period 2015 through 2022. Also, ... and analytics are derived from primary and secondary research. This report ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... FREMONT, Calif. , Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... pleased to announce development of a novel system ... in collaboration with the University of Rochester (NY, ... ). The new system is able to ... cancer biomarker, HER2 (Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2) ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... , ... February 17, 2017 , ... ... flying hobbyists, and DJI, the world’s leading maker of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), ... public safety officers to use drones effectively, and support educational outreach efforts. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: