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Modeling plant metabolism to optimize oil production
Date:7/26/2011

etabolic pathways - for example, those leading to the formation of precursors to plant oils, and those related to how plants respond to different sources of nitrogen.

"The model has helped us construct a fairly comprehensive overview of the many possible alternative routes involved in oil formation in rapeseed, and categorize particular reactions and pathways according to the efficiency by which the organism converts sugars into oils. So at this stage, we can enumerate, better than before, which genes and reactions are necessary for oil formation, and which make oil production most effective," Schwender said.

The researchers emphasize that experimentation will still be essential to further elucidating the factors that can improve plant oil production. "Any kind of model is a largely simplified representation of processes that occur in a living plant," Schwender said. "But it provides a way to rapidly assess the relative importance of multiple variables and further refine experimental studies. In fact, we see our model and experimental methods such as carbon tracing as complementary ways to improve our understanding of plants' metabolic pathways."

The scientists are already incorporating information from this study that will further refine the model to increase its predictive power, as well as ways to extend and adapt it for use in studying other plant systems.


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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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