[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Research

MSU researchers boost oil in leaves with genes from algae

February 28, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

In the MSU research, caterpillar larvae that were fed oily leaves from plants engineered with algal genes gained more weight than worms that ate regular leaves.

In the MSU research, caterpillar larvae that were fed oily leaves from plants engineered with algal genes gained more weight than worms that ate regular leaves.

Michigan State University researchers have successfully employed an algal gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids in its leaves, a development they feel could enhance biofuel production as well as lead to improved animal feeds. The results were published in the current issue of The Plant Cell, the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, led this collaborative effort with colleagues from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. “Many researchers are trying to enhance plants’ energy density, and this is another way of approaching it,” Benning said. “It’s a proof-of-concept that could be used to boost plants’ oil production for biofuel use as well as improve the nutrition levels of animal feed.”

Benning and his colleagues began by identifying five genes from single-celled green algae. From the five, they identified one that, when inserted into Arabidopsis thaliana, successfully boosted oil levels in the plant’s leaf tissue.

To confirm that the improved plants were more nutritious and contained more energy, the research team fed them to caterpillar larvae. The larvae that were fed oily leaves from the enhanced plants gained more weight than worms that ate regular leaves.

For the next phase of the research, Benning and his colleagues will work to enhance oil production in grasses and algae that have economic value. The benefits of this research are worth pursuing, Benning said. “If oil can be extracted from leaves, stems and seeds, the potential energy capacity of plants may double,” he said. “Further, if algae can be engineered to continuously produce high levels of oil, rather than only when they are under stress, they can become a viable alternative to traditional agricultural crops.”

“These basic research findings are significant in advancing the engineering of oil-producing plants,” said Kenneth Keegstra, GLBRC scientific director and MSU University Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “They will help write a new chapter on the development of production schemes that will enhance the quantity, quality and profitability of both traditional and nontraditional crops.”

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae because of their color, have endured for more than 2.5 billion years, providing ample time to adapt to changes in the Earth'...
Tess Riley writes in TheGuardian.com about how spirulina may be able to combat malnutrition in developing countries. Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth, c...
Fort Myers, FL-based Algenol has announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved fuels made from Algenol’s process as an advanced biofuel, meet...
Designboom.com is showcasing the “Spirulina Fountain” designed by bureau A. The installation constitutes a hybrid, fusing the production basins of the intense blue-green ...
Cellana, Inc., with operations in San Diego and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, has announced that David Anton, Ph.D., has been appointed Chief Operating Officer and elected to the ...
Sami Zaatari writes for the Middle East’s Gulf News that Abu Dhabi’s coastal sabkhas – the Arabic phonetic translation for salt flats – hold great potential for solar pow...
Five years ago, on April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig caused a release of 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was ca...
Joule has announced the issuance of a patent on the direct, continuous production of hydrocarbon fuels — extending its ability to target the highest-value molecules of th...
Scientists have been investigating the likely future impact of changing environmental conditions on ocean phytoplankton, which forms the basis of all the oceans' food cha...
Joelle Kovach writes in the Peterborough Examiner that a company developing new technologies using the algae euglena to purify water has opened a new facility near Trent ...
Dr. Gloria Naa Dzama Addico and Kweku Amoako Atta deGraft-Johnson write in Graphic Online about the plight of the fisher folks in Ghana — in the throes of depleting fish ...
Algatechnologies Ltd. has launched its AstaPure® 5% Natural Astaxanthin oleoresin, derived from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae. This latest addition to the AstaPure f...