[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]


MSU researchers boost oil in leaves with genes from algae

February 28, 2013

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
A multiple-effect evaporator (MEE) is a system designed for efficiently using the heat from steam to evaporate water. This equipment is recommended by pollution control a...
The GNT Group, a market leader in using algae as natural ingredients for color, has begun construction of an additional spirulina plant at its headquarters in Mierlo, the...
The water sample taken from the St. Lucie River near the coastline of Ft. Pierce, Florida was loaded with blue-green algae when it arrived in Ben Spaulding’s lab in Scarb...
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich writes in the Jerusalem Post that Dr. Iftach Yacoby and his research team at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, have genetically altered microalgae to ...
Algae.Tec has announced that, with the completion of the US$1M injection by Gencore, their nutraceutical plant upgrade in Cummings, Georgia, is progressing ahead of sched...
Since hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity, we are increasingly thinking about hydrogen as a successor to crude oil. But where will the hydrogen come from? Its ecologi...