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:3/30/2017)... -- On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com will host the world,s ... at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, Washington ... health and wellness apps that provide a unique, personalized ... is the first hackathon for personal genomics and the ... the genomics, tech and health industries are sending teams ...
(Date:3/29/2017)...  higi, the health IT company that operates the ... , today announced a Series B investment from ... The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy to ... population health activities through the collection and workflow integration ... collects and secures data today on behalf of over ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative ... ... Maldives Immigration ... Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... Resoundant, Inc. is pleased ... centers around the U.S. that offer MR Elastography for liver fibrosis staging. ... biopsy for staging liver fibrosis assessment. , “MRE:connect was created in response to ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... ... digital pathology and artificial intelligence Tuesday, July 25, during the Association of Pathology ... Johns Hopkins Medicine. , Baras, Associate Director of Pathology Informatics, will present ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... , ... July 18, 2017 , ... ... accelerate pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics development, announces the launch of a new NTA biosensor ... chip enables researchers to study the kinetics of polyhistidine-tagged (His-tagged) molecules quickly and ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... ... Blood centers traditionally see a dangerous drop of blood donations during the ... community blood centers as high schools are out and many frequent donors are on ... up with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC), a subsidiary ...
Breaking Biology Technology: