Researchers Evaluate Sugars and Lipids from Transgenic Sugarcane

In the United States, biodiesel production from vegetable oils has increased substantially during the past decade. However, a further increase in production is limited by the low amounts of oil produced per hectare of temperate oilseed crops.

Recently, a transgenic sugarcane was developed to accumulate both sugars and lipids in stems, making it a promising dual-purpose feedstock to produce both ethanol and biodiesel. Researchers from various academic institutions led by Haibo Huang characterized two lines of the transgenic lipid producing sugarcane (lipid-cane) and the wild-type sugarcane.

The total lipid concentrations were 0.7% for the wild-type and 0.9% and 1.3% for the lipid-cane lines, 19B and 25 C, respectively. Lipid analysis showed that about 31–33% of the total lipids from lipid-canes were triacylglycerols, the main feedstock for biodiesel production, while the wildtype sugarcane only contained 5% triacylglycerols.

By processing the sugarcane stems with a juicer, about 90% of the sugars and 60% of the lipids were extracted with juice. The extracted sugars were then fermented to ethanol and the lipids were later recovered from the fermented juice using organic solvents.

This study proved that lipid and sugar co-production from the novel lipid-cane is feasible and has the potential to be a replacement for fossil-derived fuel.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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