Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists transform cellulose into starch: Potential food source derived from non-food plants

Date:
April 16, 2013
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
A team of researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally though of as food crops.

Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, led a team researchers that has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally though of as food crops.
Credit: Virginia Tech

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally though of as food crops.

Related Articles


Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, led a team of researchers in the project that could help feed a growing global population that is estimated to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Starch is one of the most important components of the human diet and provides 20-40 percent of our daily caloric intake.

The research was published this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cellulose is the supporting material in plant cell walls and is the most common carbohydrate on earth. This new development opens the door to the potential that food could be created from any plant, reducing the need for crops to be grown on valuable land that requires fertilizers, pesticides, and large amounts of water. The type of starch that Zhang's team produced is amylose, a linear resistant starch that is not broken down in the digestion process and acts as a good source of dietary fiber. It has been proven to decrease the risk of obesity and diabetes.

This discovery holds promise on many fronts beyond food systems.

"Besides serving as a food source, the starch can be used in the manufacture of edible, clear films for biodegradable food packaging," Zhang said. "It can even serve as a high-density hydrogen storage carrier that could solve problems related to hydrogen storage and distribution."

Zhang used a novel process involving cascading enzymes to transform cellulose into amylose starch.

"Cellulose and starch have the same chemical formula," Zhang said. "The difference is in their chemical linkages. Our idea is to use an enzyme cascade to break up the bonds in cellulose, enabling their reconfiguration as starch."

The new approach takes cellulose from non-food plant material, such as corn stover, converts about 30% to amylose, and hydrolyzes the remainder to glucose suitable for ethanol production. Corn stover consists of the stem, leaves, and husk of the corn plant remaining after ears of corn are harvested. However, the process works with cellulose from any plant.

This bioprocess called "simultaneous enzymatic biotransformation and microbial fermentation" is easy to scale up for commercial production. It is environmentally friendly because it does not require expensive equipment, heat, or chemical reagents, and does not generate any waste. The key enzymes immobilized on the magnetic nanoparticles can easily be recycled using a magnetic force.

Zhang designed the experiments and conceived the cellulose-to-starch concept. Zhang and Virginia Tech visiting scholar Hongge Chen are the inventors of the cellulose-to-starch biotransformation, which is covered under a provisional patent application. Chun You, a postdoctoral researcher from China at Virginia Tech, and Chen conducted most of the research work.

Support for the current research comes from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. Additional resources were contributed by the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Biodesign and Bioprocessing Research Center, the Shell GameChanger Program, and the U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Science Center, along with the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the Department of Energy. Chen was partially supported by the China Scholarship Council.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. C. You, H. Chen, S. Myung, N. Sathitsuksanoh, H. Ma, X.-Z. Zhang, J. Li, Y.- H. P. Zhang. Enzymatic transformation of nonfood biomass to starch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302420110

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Scientists transform cellulose into starch: Potential food source derived from non-food plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085309.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2013, April 16). Scientists transform cellulose into starch: Potential food source derived from non-food plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085309.htm
Virginia Tech. "Scientists transform cellulose into starch: Potential food source derived from non-food plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085309.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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