Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two-For-One Special: Industrial Enzymes And Food

Date:
July 16, 1999
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is growing valuable industrial enzymes in non-edible portions of potatoes and other crops. They’ve developed a method to grow the enzymes only in the vines, resulting in two profitable crops from one plant -- potatoes for food and cellulases for producing ethanol.

RICHLAND, Wash. - Some crops are grown for food while others are grown to produce consumer products, but a special group of potato plants now is doing both at once. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a specialized capability to control genes that are transplanted into a plant. Researchers are able to direct desirable traits into a specific portion of a plant, allowing dual-use of one crop.

The experimental potatoes have sprouted valuable enzymes in the vines, while the tubers remain just plain old spuds to be baked, boiled or turned into french fries. These transgenic plants have been modified to produce cellulase enzymes in the foliage. The cellulase-producing genes were isolated from bacterial and fungal organisms.

Cellulase is an enzyme used to break down plant material and is used in a wide variety of applications, from food processing to ethanol production. "The process can be adapted to create additional enzymes such as lipases and proteases used in pharmaceuticals, specialty chemical and industrial products," said Brian Hooker, a biochemical engineer at Pacific Northwest.

Currently, industrial enzymes are grown in fermenters, which is a labor- and time-intensive process that is relatively costly. Researchers say using plants as "bioreactors" to grow the enzymes is much easier and cheaper. The fermentation process costs range from $50 to $250 per gram of desired product, while Pacific Northwest estimates that growing the enzymes in plants would cost less than a penny per gram, including processing costs.

The process isn't limited just to potato plants. Other plants, especially corn, can be modified to produce enzymes in the non-edible portions. With more than 120 million dry tons of corn stalks and 4 million dry tons of potato foliage produced per year, this is an untapped resource for industrial compounds.

Additionally, the process is a boon to farmers who would be able to sell two crops for the cost of growing one. Pacific Northwest researchers estimate that by selling the potato tubers for food and vines for enzymes, farmers could increase their profits by as much as $100 to $200 per acre.

In future research, Pacific Northwest plans to use unique promoters that would induce the enzyme-producing gene in the foliage to "turn-on" after harvest. Hooker says although the Pacific Northwest process does not produce enzymes in the tuber, the public may find it more acceptable for the enzyme production to occur after the tops are separated from the potato itself.

Meanwhile, Pacific Northwest researchers are using similar methods to produce human blood factors and tissue growth factors in plants. Using plant-based pharmaceuticals is much safer and cheaper than using donated blood or mammalian cells to treat hemophiliacs or wounds. See related news release at http://www.pnl.gov/news/news.htm.

Business inquiries on this or other PNNL technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or e-mail inquiry@pnl.gov.

Funding for the dual-use crop research comes from DOE, which is interested in advancing alternative fuel production. Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated Pacific Northwest for DOE since 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Two-For-One Special: Industrial Enzymes And Food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990715134504.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (1999, July 16). Two-For-One Special: Industrial Enzymes And Food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990715134504.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Two-For-One Special: Industrial Enzymes And Food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990715134504.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins