[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
Skara Bohny reports in Stuff.co.nz that New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute is receiving funding as part of the High-Value Nutrition’s (HVN) National Science Challenge to de...
Karly Graham reports that Michigan State University researchers are testing algae hibernation to optimize the plant’s ability to be used for biofuel production. Algae pro...
Biotechnologists from Aarhus University have demonstrated how the rare properties of an atypical light-dependent enzyme can be used with a photo-bio-catalytic continuous ...
Cécile Barbière writes for Euractive.fr (translated by Rob Kirby) that, in large greenhouses formerly home to the tomatoes and cucumbers of the market gardening Groupe Ol...
The 2020 Algae Biomass Summit is going virtual. In light of the continued uncertainty around the global COVID-19 outbreak the Algae Biomass Organization’s board of direct...
How did plants make the evolutionary jump from water to land? Scientists think that green algae are their water-living ancestors, but we are not sure how the transition t...
Millions of tons of rotting seaweed wash up on the beaches of Mexico, the Caribbean and other vacation spots every year. Partly fueled by fertilizers washing into the sea...
AlgaEnergy, a Spanish biotechnology company specializing in the production and commercial applications of microalgae, and Yokogawa Electric Corporation, a leading provide...
Gerard de Souza reports for the Hindustan Times that researchers at the CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography Goa (India) have found a cleaner, cheaper method to grow b...
Edinburgh-based biotech startup MiAlgae has received an investment of £1 million ($1.3USD) to focus on the commercialization of its microalgae products that use co-produc...
Paris-based Solabia Group (“Solabia”) has acquired Algatech Ltd., a global leader in the development, cultivation and commercialization of ingredients delivered from micr...
Julianna Photopoulos writes in Horizon EU Research and Innovation magazine that UK start-up Skipping Rocks Lab aims to use natural materials extracted from plants and sea...