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 Raiding the rape field
23.05.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New technique reveals details of forest fire recovery
17.05.2018 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Space-like gravity weakens biochemical signals in muscle formation

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

NIST puts the optical microscope under the microscope to achieve atomic accuracy

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>