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The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research

Date:
June 23, 2014
Source:
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Summary:
The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, is expected to drive basic scientific understanding of GTs and better enable the manipulation of cell walls for the production of biofuels and other chemical products.

The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, features GT clones of rice (shown here) and Arabidopsis plants.
Credit: Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have unveiled the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of the biosynthesis of plant cell walls. The idea behind what is being called "the JBEI GT Collection" is to provide a functional genomic resource for researchers seeking to extract the sugars in plant biomass and synthesize them into clean, green and renewable transportation fuels.

Glycosyltransferases (GTs) are enzymes that catalyze the connection of simple monosaccharide sugars into the complex polysaccharide sugars that are essential to a wide range of plant cell structures and processes. While it is known that plants have evolved large families of GTs, the chemical nature of these enzymes is such that the specific functions of most GTs remain largely unknown. This is a major drawback for bioenergy research where the goal is to modify plant biomass for maximum fuel yields.

To address this problem, especially as it pertains to cell wall biosynthesis, a large team of JBEI researchers, led by Joshua Heazlewood, director of JBEI's Plant Systems Biology program, has cloned and verified a clone library consisting of 403 Arabidopsis GTs and 96 rice GTs. In plant biology, Arabidopsis is the reference plant for species like poplar, and rice the reference plant for grasses.

"Using the unique infrastructure and resources at JBEI, we have provided a collection of high quality GT clones, all of which have been verified by sequencing and are available in easy to use cassettes," Heazelwood says. "We're making this entire collection available to the plant research community and expect it to drive our basic understanding of GTs and enable the manipulation of cell walls."

In addition to the clones for Arabidopsis and rice GTs, Heazlewood and his collaborators at JBEI also created a set of highly efficient particle bombardment plasmids -- pBullets -- which are plasmids shot into a cell to mark the location of targeted proteins. The JBEI pBullets are constructed with markers for the plant endomembrane system, the collection of membranes that separates a cell's functional and structural compartments.

"Our pBullet vector series is custom designed for efficient bombardment," Heazlewood says. "Researchers generally use large unwieldy plasmids that perform badly when it comes to localizing proteins."

While the 403 Arabidopsis clones represent approximately 88-percent of the defined Arabidopsis GTs, the 96 rice clones represent only 15-percent of the defined rice GTs. JBEI researchers are now working to expand this. Both the JBEI GT Collection and pBullet vector series are available to the research community through various outlets.

This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeemeng Lao, Ai Oikawa, Jennifer R. Bromley, Peter McInerney, Anongpat Suttangkakul, Andreia M. Smith-Moritz, Hector Plahar, Tsan-Yu Chiu, Susana M. González Fernández-Niño, Berit Ebert, Fan Yang, Katy M. Christiansen, Sara F. Hansen, Solomon Stonebloom, Paul D. Adams, Pamela C. Ronald, Nathan J. Hillson, Masood Z. Hadi, Miguel E. Vega-Sánchez, Dominique Loqué, Henrik V. Scheller, Joshua L. Heazlewood. The Plant Glycosyltransferase Clone Collection for Functional Genomics. The Plant Journal, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12577

Cite This Page:

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623155107.htm>.
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2014, June 23). The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623155107.htm
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623155107.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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