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Iowa State, Ames Lab chemists aid study of mutated plants that may be better for biofuels
Date:2/28/2012

s possible about the molecular structure of the cell walls to see if mutations to the plants resulted in changes to the cellulose.

"We found that the crystalline cellulose content had decreased in the mutant cell walls," Hong said. "We can quantify the degree of change, and be very specific about the type of change."

The cellulose microfibrils in the mutant cell walls, for example, were thinner than those found in normal plants, Hong said. The studies also found an additional type of cellulose with an intermediate degree of crystal structure.

Hong said those findings suggest the genetic mutations did create differences in cellulose production and formation.

The study also reports the cellulose produced by the mutated plant could be more efficiently processed into the sugars necessary for biofuel production.

"What this work suggests, in very broad terms, is that it is possible to modify cellulose structure by genetic methods, so that potentially one can more easily extract cellulose from plants as energy sources," Hong said.

The research team's paper said developing techniques to modify the structure of plant cellulose in crops for better and easier conversion to fermentable sugars "could be transformative in a bio-based economy."


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Contact: Mei Hong
mhong@iastate.edu
515-294-3521
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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