Discovery of Chloroplast Protein Opens Way to New Tailored Bioenergy Crops (full access to paper may require paid subscription)

Chloroplasts are components in plant cells which capture light energy, and orchestrate the photosynthetic conversion of water and carbon dioxide into sugars, the raw material for plant biomass. Scientists from Michigan State University (MSU, in the United States) have discovered a protein in the plant chloroplast which may help offer insights on how the photosynthetic process is orchestrated. The discovery of the protein, called trigalactosyldiacylglycerol 4 (or TGD4), can reportedly lead to plant varieties that are specifically tailored for biofuel production. According to MSU biochemistry professor, Christopher Benning, “this protein directly affects photosynthesis and how plants create biomass (stems, leaves, stalks) and oils”. They found that if the protein is malfunctioning, the plant accumulates oil in its leaves. Professor Benning says that, “if the plant is storing oil in its leaves, there could be more oil per plant, which could make production of biofuels such as biodiesel more efficient. More research is needed so we can completely understand the mechanism of operation". Details of their research results are published in the journal, The Plant Cell (URL above)..


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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