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Plant gene mapping may lead to better biofuel production
Date:4/14/2009

rting point for us to pursue this goal."

In fact, some of the genes the scientists found to be expressed at high levels in woody tissues may carry the genetic instructions for making the enzymes the scientists would like to control.

"Our next step will be to use biochemical and biophysical approaches to characterize these individual genes' functions to find those directly or indirectly related to cell-wall modification. Then we could use those genes to engineer new bioenergy crops, and test whether those changes improve the efficiency of converting biomass to biofuel," Liu said.

Liu's group also made some interesting observations about gene expression and gene location in their study of the acyl-modifying enzyme genes. "We discovered a few unique pairs of genes that were inversely overlapped with their neighboring genes on the genome," Liu said. In this unique organization, the paired genes (sequences of DNA) produce protein-encoding segments (RNAs) that are complementary to one another meaning the two RNA strands would stick to each other like highly specific Velcro. That would prevent the RNA from building its enzyme, so the expression of one gene in the pair appears to inhibit its partner.

Perhaps understanding this natural "anti-sense" regulation for gene expression will assist scientists in their attempts to regulate acyl-modifying enzyme levels.


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

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