Biotech Updates

Research Findings Bring Promise of Tailored Products for the Industry

June 15, 2016

An international team of scientists, led by the University of Melbourne and the University of Cambridge has identified several proteins that are essential in the assembly of the protein machinery that makes cellulose. The scientists discovered that the proteins are located in an intracellular compartment called the Golgi where proteins are sorted and modified.

"If the function of this protein family is abolished the cellulose synthesizing complexes become stuck in the Golgi and have problems reaching the cell surface where they normally are active," said lead authors Drs. Yi Zhang (Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology) and Nino Nikolovski (University of Cambridge). "We therefore named the new proteins STELLO, which is Greek for to set in place, and deliver."

Professor Paul Dupree from the University of Cambridge said the findings are important to understand how plants produce their biomass. He added that when using cellulosic plant materials, scientists get around the problem of food-versus-fuel scenario that is problematic when using corn as a basis for bioethanol. Finding genes and mechanisms that can improve cellulose production in plants so they can tailor cellulose production for various needs is of great importance.

For more details, read the news release at The Melbourne Newsroom.