Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Botany: Nature's Shut-off Switch For Cellulose Production Found

Date:
December 19, 2008
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers found a mechanism that naturally shuts down cellulose production in plants, and learning how to keep that switch turned on may be key to enhancing biomass production for plant-based biofuels.

Purdue researcher Nick Carpita said plants may be able to produce more biofuel mass if the means of shutting down cellulose production is disrupted. His research team learned that small RNAs are key in determining the duration of cellulose production.
Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell

Purdue University researchers found a mechanism that naturally shuts down cellulose production in plants, and learning how to keep that switch turned on may be key to enhancing biomass production for plant-based biofuels.

Nicholas Carpita, a professor of botany and plant pathology, said that small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) play a normal role in plant development by shutting off genes involved in primary cell wall growth in order to begin development of thicker, secondary cell walls.

"These small RNAs were known to play a role in fending off disease-causing pathogens, but we are only now beginning to understand their involvement in normal plant development," he said.

Carpita's research team reported its findings in the Dec. 15 early online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If we can learn to interfere with the down-regulation of cellulose synthesis, then plants may be able to produce more cellulose, which is key to biofuels production," Carpita said.

Mick Held, a postdoctoral researcher in Carpita's lab, virologist Steve Scofield, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and adjunct assistant professor of agronomy at Purdue, and Carpita made the discovery in barley after introducing a virus as a way to "silence" specific genes and study their functions. The researchers noticed that the virus had more effect then anticipated.

"The virus hijacked a whole suite of genes, and when we compared the targeted plant to our control plants we found that the small RNAs were responsible and already in the controls even without adding the virus," Held said.

Carpita said this let researchers see that the siRNAs - among other things - regulate and shut down primary cell wall development to begin secondary wall growth.

"These secondary stages result in characteristics such as tough rinds of corn stalks, vascular elements to conduct water and fibers for strength," he said.

The researchers said that delaying or preventing the shutdown of both primary and secondary cellulose production might enhance total plant biomass.

"Most biofuel researchers believe that cellulose utilization offers the best path to sustainable ethanol production," Scofield said. "Our work uncovered a previously unknown mechanism that suggests a way to increase the amount of cellulose produced in plants."

Other members of the research team were Bryan Penning and Sarah Kessans of Purdue and Amanda Brandt of the USDA/Ag Research Service, Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit located at Purdue.

The research was funded by a U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Biosciences grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Botany: Nature's Shut-off Switch For Cellulose Production Found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217190427.htm>.
Purdue University. (2008, December 19). Botany: Nature's Shut-off Switch For Cellulose Production Found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217190427.htm
Purdue University. "Botany: Nature's Shut-off Switch For Cellulose Production Found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217190427.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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