Navigation Links
'Fat worms' inch scientists toward better biofuel production
Date:2/26/2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. Fat worms confirm that researchers from Michigan State University have successfully engineered a plant with oily leaves -- a feat that could enhance biofuel production as well as lead to improved animal feeds.

The results, published in the current issue of The Plant Cell, the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists, show that researchers could use an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in its leaves an uncommon occurrence for most plants.

Traditional biofuel research has focused on improving the oil content of seeds. One reason for this focus is because oil production in seeds occurs naturally. Little research, however, has been done to examine the oil production of leaves and stems, as plants don't typically store lipids in these tissues.

Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, led a collaborative effort with colleagues from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. The team's efforts resulted in a significant early step toward producing better plants for biofuels.

"Many researchers are trying to enhance plants' energy density, and this is another way of approaching it," Benning said. "It's a proof-of-concept that could be used to boost plants' oil production for biofuel use as well as improve the nutrition levels of animal feed."

Benning and his colleagues began by identifying five genes from one-celled green algae. From the five, they identified one that, when inserted into Arabidopsis thaliana, successfully boosted oil levels in the plant's leaf tissue.

To confirm that the improved plants were more nutritious and contained more energy, the research team fed them to caterpillar larvae. The larvae that were fed oily leaves from the enhanced plants gained more weight than worms that ate regular leaves.

For the next phase of the research, Benning and his colleagues will work to enhance oil production in grasses and algae that have economic value. The benefits of this research are worth pursuing, Benning said.

"If oil can be extracted from leaves, stems and seeds, the potential energy capacity of plants may double," he said. "Further, if algae can be engineered to continuously produce high levels of oil, rather than only when they are under stress, they can become a viable alternative to traditional agricultural crops."

Moreover, algae can be grown on poor agricultural land a big plus in the food vs. fuel debate, he added.

"These basic research findings are significant in advancing the engineering of oil-producing plants," said Kenneth Keegstra, GLBRC scientific director and MSU University Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. "They will help write a new chapter on the development of production schemes that will enhance the quantity, quality and profitability of both traditional and nontraditional crops."


'/>"/>

Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@cabs.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Thailand: Astonishing 10 new species of semi-aquatic freshwater earthworms revealed
2. Waste removal in worms reveals new mechanism to regulate calcium signaling
3. What do leeches, limpets and worms have in common? Now, a sequenced genome
4. Using planarian flatworms to understand organ regeneration
5. Artificial intelligence helps detect subtle differences in mutant worms
6. Earthworms soak up heavy metal
7. Scientists use worms to unearth cancer drug targets
8. Microbes, sponges, and worms add to coral reef woes
9. Acid-wielding worms drill through bones at the bottom of the sea
10. Scientists create new maps depicting potential worldwide coral bleaching by 2056
11. Scientists find surprising new influence on cancer genes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/20/2017)... At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel ... came to the DERMALOG stand together with the Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo ... At the largest German biometrics company the two government leaders could see ... as well as DERMALOGĀ“s multi-biometrics system.   Continue ... ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made ... ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... MELBOURNE , Australia , March ... clinical study data at the prestigious World Lung Imaging ... Dr. Andreas Fouras , was invited to deliver ... and pulmonary medicine. This globally recognised event brings together ... and share the latest developments in lung imaging. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... 25, 2017 , ... Franz Inc ., an early ... and market leader for Semantic Graph Database technology, today announced ... most effective system for developing and deploying applications to solve the challenges developers ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... Dr. Robert G. ... , proudly announced today that acclaimed physiatrist Matthew Terzella, MD, has joined the ... 2017. , Dr. Terzella completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... ... April 24, 2017 , ... ... denaturation in a cellular milieu; however, the broad application of this cellular target ... platforms with sensitive quantitative readouts. Cell-based thermal stabilization assays are valuable methods for ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... Having worked on the design of the ... to introduce it to top lab design architects from around the country at the ... of Industrial Design and Engineering Greg Casey will be at the show, where they ...
Breaking Biology Technology: