Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research promises more healthful vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it

Date:
May 21, 2010
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Genetic discoveries from a shrub called the burning bush, known for its brilliant red fall foliage, could fire new advances in biofuels and low-calorie food oils, according to scientists. New low-cost DNA sequencing technology applied to seeds of the species Euonymus alatus -- a common ornamental planting -- was crucial to identifying the gene responsible for its manufacture of a novel, high-quality oil.

Developing fruit of Euonymus alatus, or burning bush. The white seed endosperm produces novel acetyl triacylglycerols, or acTAGs, while the orange aril tissue around the seed produces normal vegetable oil.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Timothy Durrett, MSU

Genetic discoveries from a shrub called the burning bush, known for its brilliant red fall foliage, could fire new advances in biofuels and low-calorie food oils, according to Michigan State University scientists.

New low-cost DNA sequencing technology applied to seeds of the species Euonymus alatus -- a common ornamental planting -- was crucial to identifying the gene responsible for its manufacture of a novel, high-quality oil. But despite its name, the burning bush is not a suitable oil crop.

Yet inserted into the mustard weed -- well-known to researchers as Arabidopsis and a cousin to commercial oilseed canola -- the burning bush gene encodes an enzyme that produces a substantial yield of unusual compounds called acetyl glycerides, or acTAGs. Related vegetable oils are the basis of the world's oilseed industry for the food and biofuels markets, but the oil produced by the burning bush enzyme claims unique and valuable characteristics.

One is its lower viscosity, or thickness.

"The high viscosity of most plant oils prevents their direct use in diesel engines, so the oil must be converted to biodiesel," explained Timothy Durrett, an MSU plant biology research associate. "We demonstrated that acTAGs possess lower viscosity than regular plant oils. The lower viscosity acTAGs could therefore be useful as a direct-use biofuel for many diesel engines."

Improved low-temperature characteristics noted for the oil also could make it suitable for diesel fuel, he said. And acTAGs boast lower calorie content than other vegetable oils, Durrett added, "thus they could be used as a reduced-calorie food oil substitute."

With University Distinguished Professor of plant biology John Ohlrogge, visiting professor of plant biology Michael Pollard and other MSU researchers, Durrett published the findings in the May 18 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The burning bush is certainly not a rare species -- the team gathered its samples from plantings around MSU's campus. The researchers now are working to improve the modified mustard weed seeds' acTAGs yield and already report purity levels of up to 80 percent.

"It should now be possible to produce acetyl glycerides in transgenic oilseed crops or single cell production systems such as algae that are the focus of much current effort in biofuels research," said Pollard, who is keen to explore the technology's commercial potential. "With the basic genetics defined and thus one major technical risk greatly reduced, the way is open to produce and assess this novel oil in food and nonfood applications."

Funding for this early stage research came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with support by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a scientific consortium of which MSU is a major partner.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. T. P. Durrett, D. D. McClosky, A. W. Tumaney, D. A. Elzinga, J. Ohlrogge, M. Pollard. A distinct DGAT with sn-3 acetyltransferase activity that synthesizes unusual, reduced-viscosity oils in Euonymus and transgenic seeds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; 107 (20): 9464 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001707107

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Research promises more healthful vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520161952.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2010, May 21). Research promises more healthful vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520161952.htm
Michigan State University. "Research promises more healthful vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520161952.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
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