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 Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>