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Discovery may pave way to genetically enhanced biofuel crops
Date:12/20/2012

50% increase in β-1,4-galactan levels. In many cases, modifying the composition of plant cell wall components leads to alterations in growth or stature. Strikingly, all of the plant lines overproducing this important six-carbon sugar appeared to be healthy. Biochemical tests of the enzymatic properties of purified Arabidopsis GT92 protein supported the hypothesis that GT92 proteins are important enzymes for β-1,4-galactan synthesis in plants. This means that crops engineered to produce increased levels of GT92 proteins might contain more easily fermentable sugars, thereby potentially boosting the efficiency of biofuel production.

According to lead scientist Henrik Scheller, "Bioenergy crops with high β-1,4-galactan content would have significant advantages for the biofuels industry and we now have the knowledge to specifically increase β-1,4-galactan content in the biomass of cell walls. This breakthrough was made possible by a collaboration involving members of the Feedstocks Division at JBEI and our collaborators in Denmark. We are very excited about this result and look forward to testing it in a bioenergy crop such as switchgrass or poplar trees".


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Contact: Kathy R. Munkvold
kmunkvold@aspb.org
301-296-0914
American Society of Plant Biologists
Source:Eurekalert  

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