Crop Biotech Update

First Enzyme to Enhance the Synthesis of Galactan Sugar Identified

January 9, 2013

An international collaboration led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has identified the first enzyme capable of substantially boosting the amount of galactan in plant cell walls. Galactan is a polymer of galactose, a six-carbon sugar that can be readily fermented by yeast into ethanol and is a target of interest for researchers in advanced biofuels produced from cellulosic biomass.

The researchers have confirmed the identity of the GT92 enzyme as the first enzyme shown to increase the biosynthesis of galactan. Henrik Scheller, vice president for JBEI's Feedstocks Division and director of its Cell Wall Biosynthesis group said that the identification of the first β-1,4-galactan synthase provides an important new tool for the engineering of advanced bioenergy fuel crops.

View the news release of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2012/12/21/boosting-galactan-sugars-could-boost-biofuel-production/.