Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Iowa State, Ames Lab chemists aid study of mutated plants that may be better for biofuels

29.02.2012
Genetic mutations to cellulose in plants could improve the conversion of cellulosic biomass into biofuels, according to a research team that included two Iowa State University chemists.

The team recently published its findings in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mei Hong, an Iowa State professor of chemistry and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, and Tuo Wang, an Iowa State graduate student in chemistry, contributed their expertise in solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to the study.

The study was led by Seth DeBolt, an associate professor of horticulture at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Chris Somerville, the Philomathia Professor of Alternative Energy and director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, is also a contributing author. The research project was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Researchers studied Arabidopsis thaliana, a common model plant in research studies, and its cellulose synthase membrane complex that produces the microfibrils of cellulose that surround all plant cells and form the basic structure of plant cell walls.

These ribbons of cellulose are made of crystallized sugars. The crystal structure makes it difficult for enzymes to break down the cellulose to the sugars that can be fermented into alcohol for biofuels. And so DeBolt assembled a research team to see if genetic mutations in the plant membrane complex could produce what the researchers have called "wounded" cellulose that's not as crystalline and therefore easier to break down into sugar.

Hong, who had done previous studies of plant cell walls, used her lab's solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance technology to study the cell walls created by the mutated system. The goals were to collect as much information as 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."

Mei Hong | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>