Biotech Updates

Research Into Plant Natural Products Receives Boost

January 7, 2011

A National Science Foundation (NSF) grant was recently awarded to Noble Foundation principal investigator Lloyd W. Summer and Nevin Young from the University of Minnesota to have a better understanding of important natural plant product triterpene saponins. Triterpene saponins are plant products found in forage crops such as alfalfa that can alter the nutritional quality for ruminant animals. Drs. Sumner and Young will use the US$690,000 grant to uncover the genes responsible for producing these chemical compounds.

"If we can locate and understand the genes behind triterpene saponins, we can potentially engineer plants with specific levels of these naturally occurring chemicals," Sumner said. "This would be a great benefit to agriculture and humans."

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