Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More useful plants may sprout from gene role discovery

20.04.2004


It may be possible to alter plants so they are more nutritious and easier to process without weakening them so much they fall over, according to Purdue University researchers who found a new twist in a plant formation biochemical pathway.


Clint Chapple



Decreasing the amount of two acids in plant cell walls may enhance livestock feed digestibility for better nutrition, while increasing the potential uses of various plants, said Clint Chapple, Purdue biochemistry professor.

The findings, published in a recent issue of The Plant Cell, revise scientific thinking about the role of ferulic and sinapic acids in building plant cell walls. For many years, researchers believed that the two acids contributed to the production of lignin, the principal structural component of plant cell walls.


"It’s the hardening substance that makes the difference between a piece of celery and a piece of wood," Chapple said.

Based on laboratory studies, Chapple and his team found that an enzyme converts two molecules into the acids, which then are incorporated into cell walls. This indicates that sinapic and ferulic acids are end products rather than intermediates, or building blocks, in an essential biochemical pathway for cell wall construction, Chapple said.

"Now that we know the acids are not part of the lignin pathway, it may be possible to change cell walls without harming the plant," he said. "It will be easy to isolate and alter the corresponding gene in other plants, including those used for livestock feed such as corn."

The main focus of the research is to create more useful plants. In normal plants, cross linking of lignin, ferulic acid and other substances forms a strong bond that make cell walls difficult to break down.

But Chapple said he believes that cell walls could be manipulated so that nutrients in livestock feed are more easily absorbed into the digestive tract.

One clue that led Chapple’s team to its finding came when the scientists looked at leaves from normal and mutant Arabidopsis thaliana plants under ultraviolet lights. The normal Arabidopsis leaves appear blue-green under UV light. Mutants, which lack a derivative of sinapic acid, appeared red under the UV light. This enabled the researchers to identify the gene responsible for synthesis of sinapic and ferulic acids, compounds that subsequently are cross-linked into cell walls.

Altering the gene that programs an enzyme involved in creation of ferulic acid and sinapic acid might be a way to change cell wall make up, Chapple said. His team cloned the gene, called REDUCED EPIDERMAL FLUORESCENCE1 (REF1), which encodes an enzyme that is a member of the aldehyde dehydrogenase family. A similar enzyme helps the human body detoxify alcohol.

"People thought that we’d have a hard time manipulating ferulic acid in corn cell walls because that might mess around with lignin production and the plants would fall over," Chapple said about earlier hypotheses on producing more digestible animal feed.

The new findings may solve some agriculture production problems, he said.

"We appear to be reaching the limits of productivity in terms of bushels per acre," Chapple said. "You can only plant things so close together; plants can only grow so big. If a seed company were able to increase yield per acre by 1 percent, that’s a big improvement."

In contrast, if the quality of a crop or its digestibility could be altered, that would be a significant benefit to farmers and their livestock.

"You could feed a cow more, but even that has a limit because it will only eat so much," Chapple said. "Or you could make what the cow eats more energy-rich by improving the digestibility."

The other researchers involved in this study were: Ramesh Nair, now with Pioneer Hi-Bred International; Kristen Bastress, Duke University graduate student; Max Ruegger, now with Dow AgroSciences; and Jeff Denault, Eli Lilly and Co. research scientist. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Division of Energy Biosciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Initiative provided funding for this research.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu
Source: Clint Chapple, (765) 494-0494, chapple@purdue.edu
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu

Susan A. Steeves | Purdue News
Further information:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/2004/040419.Chapple.fluoresc.html
http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>