Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Second plant pathway could improve nutrition, biofuel production

Date:
April 3, 2010
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Scientists have defined a hidden second option plants have for making an essential amino acid that could be the first step in boosting plants' nutritional value and improving biofuel production potential.

Purdue University scientists have defined a hidden second option plants have for making an essential amino acid that could be the first step in boosting plants' nutritional value and improving biofuel production potential.

Related Articles


The amino acid phenylalanine is required to build proteins and is a precursor for more than 8,000 other compounds essential to plants, including lignin, which allows plants to stand upright but acts as a barrier in the production of cellulosic ethanol.

It had been believed that plants could use two pathways to create phenylalanine. Natalia Dudareva, a professor of horticulture, and Hiroshi Maeda, a postdoctoral researcher in Dudareva's laboratory, have confirmed that while plants predominantly use one pathway, they have another at their disposal. The existence of this second pathway might one day allow scientists to increase a plant's production of the essential amino acid. Their research was published in the early online version of the journal Plant Cell.

"That would allow us to increase the nutritional value of some food," Maeda said. "But also by increasing these compounds, the plants would be better able to protect themselves from changes in the environment."

Maeda added that reducing phenylalanine could lead to a reduction of lignin in plants, which would improve digestibility of cellulosic materials for ethanol production.

Phenylalanine is one of the few essential amino acids that humans and animals cannot synthesize, so it must come from plants. It is produced when sugars enter a plant's shikimate pathway, which creates a link between the processing of sugars and the generation of aromatic compounds. The next steps had not been known until now, and were thought to involve one of two proposed routes -- the phenylpyruvate or arogenate pathways.

Dudareva and Maeda found a gene responsible for phenylalanine production, and suppression of the gene expression knocked out 80 percent of the phenylalanine content in petunias. The hypothesis was that the gene suppression would act like a clogged pipe, creating an abundance of compounds that would have later become phenylalanine in a normal plant.

But that's not what happened.

"These plants knew that the last step of phenylalanine production was down and slowed the first steps," Dudareva said.

Maeda said the plant created some sort of feedback mechanism that slowed down the entry point of the shikimate pathway.

Dudareva and Maeda wanted to see what would happen if they forced the shikimate pathway to function, so they gave the petunias shikimic acid. The plants were flooded with the upstream compounds as expected, but since they could not use the usual arogenate pathway to convert them to phenylalanine, they used another path that scientists had only theorized existed.

"What this tells us is this other pathway could be active under certain conditions," Dudareva said.

Understanding how the pathways work is a first step in finding ways to increase phenylalanine for boosting nutritional values of foods, or decreasing it, which may help in biofuel production.

Dudareva and Maeda will next try to determine how the plant creates feedback to the shikimate pathway. Disrupting that feedback could lead to an abundant production of phenylalanine in plants. The National Science Foundation funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Brian Wallheimer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maeda et al. RNAi Suppression of Arogenate Dehydratase1 Reveals That Phenylalanine Is Synthesized Predominantly via the Arogenate Pathway in Petunia Petals. The Plant Cell Online, 2010; DOI: 10.1105/tpc.109.073247

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Second plant pathway could improve nutrition, biofuel production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122654.htm>.
Purdue University. (2010, April 3). Second plant pathway could improve nutrition, biofuel production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122654.htm
Purdue University. "Second plant pathway could improve nutrition, biofuel production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331122654.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) — A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) 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:

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