Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sugarcane converted to cold-tolerant, oil-producing crop

Date:
February 24, 2014
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A multi-institutional team reports that it can increase sugarcane's geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production.

Researchers are engineering sugarcane into a more productive, oil-producing plant that can grow in cooler climes. If their work proceeds as expected, growers will be able to meet 147 percent of the US mandate for renewable fuels with the modified sugarcane, the team reports. This crop could grow on abandoned land in the southeastern United States (about 20 percent of the green zone on the map).
Credit: Graphic courtesy Stephen P. Long

A multi-institutional team reports that it can increase sugarcane's geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production.

These are only the first steps in a bigger initiative that will turn sugarcane and sorghum -- two of the most productive crop plants known -- into even more productive, oil-generating plants.

The team will present its latest findings Tuesday (Feb. 25) at the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.

"Biodiesel is attractive because, for example, with soybean, once you've pressed the oil out it's fairly easy to convert it to diesel," said Stephen P. Long, a University of Illinois professor of plant biology and leader of the initiative. "You could do it in your kitchen."

But soybean isn't productive enough to meet the nation's need for renewable diesel fuels, Long said.

"Sugarcane and sorghum are exceptionally productive plants, and if you could make them accumulate oil in their stems instead of sugar, this would give you much more oil per acre," he said.

Working first with the laboratory-friendly plant Arabidopsis and later with sugarcane, the team introduced genes that boost natural oil production in the plant. They increased oil production in sugarcane stems to about 1.5 percent.

"That doesn't sound like a lot, but at 1.5 percent, a sugarcane field in Florida would produce about 50 percent more oil per acre than a soybean field," Long said. "There's enough oil to make it worth harvesting."

The team hopes to increase the oil content of sugarcane stems to about 20 percent, he said.

Using genetic engineering, the researchers increased photosynthetic efficiency in sugarcane and sorghum by 30 percent, Long said. And to boost cold tolerance, researchers are crossing sugarcane with Miscanthus, a related perennial grass that can grow as far north as Canada. The new hybrid is more cold-tolerant than sugarcane, but further crosses are needed to restore the other attributes of sugarcane while preserving its cold-tolerance, Long said.

Ultimately, the team hopes to integrate all of these new attributes into sugarcane, he said.

"Our goal is to make sugarcane produce more oil, be more productive with more photosynthesis and be more cold-tolerant," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The original article was written by Diana Yates. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Sugarcane converted to cold-tolerant, oil-producing crop." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224110210.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2014, February 24). Sugarcane converted to cold-tolerant, oil-producing crop. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224110210.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Sugarcane converted to cold-tolerant, oil-producing crop." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224110210.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
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
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 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