Biotech Updates

New Way to Regulate Production of Plant Compounds Identified

January 8, 2014

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) have identified a new way to regulate the production of phenols, a class of plant products with a wide range of applications for humans. These compounds serve as an important source of flavors, fragrances, and pigments; some are of interest for their possible health-promoting effects; and through their contribution to the construction of plant cell walls, (poly)phenols are the major factor influencing how easy it is to convert biomass to biofuels.

The researchers explored an unconventional approach to achieve this goal. The conventional approach takes aim at the regulation of genes that instruct plant cells to make enzymes involved in phenol production. These enzymes are proteins that serve as catalysts to speed up the chemical reactions that synthesize phenols. Instead of trying to regulate how these enzymes are produced, the research looked at how the enzymes might be manipulated after production to control their ability to make plant phenols.

See BNL's news release at