The researchers have created transgenic plants, which have a higher
biomass potential given increased plant size. The new plants also have a decreased resistance to enzymes, which in turn will decrease the cost of converting the plant into biofuel. The new framework allows for understanding cell wall synthesis better, and subsequently enables the creation of more transgenic plants
Overexpression of the foxtail milled (Setaria italica L.) pectin acetylesterase 1 (SiPAE1) gene in rice resulted in increased growth and biomass yirld and improved ethanol yirld from 18-56% in diverse over-expression lines compared to wild type and vector control lines.
Dr. Mohnen's group at the University of Georgia has identified a clade of genes that are associated with the control of the biosynthesis of both pectin and lignin (and possibly xylan). Mutations of these genes in certain plants (including switchgrass and Populus) lead to considerable reduction of recalcitrance (v. wild type), as shown by means of bacterial degradation of modified biomass. Furthermore, Populus plants bearing some of these mutations have exhibited a considerable increase in height and stem diameter (v.wild type). Plants bearing these mutations may prove suitable for economically viable extraction and use of carbohydrates from plant cell wall, as recalcitrance is greatly reduced and rate of overall growth of modified plants increase.
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