Biotech Updates

GM Poplars Have Potential as Source of Biofuel

May 27, 2011

Poplars are "popular" trees because they grow fast, require little fertilizer and can grow on poor soils. In addition, they have great potential as source for biofuels such as bio-ethanol. Wout Boerjan, researcher from VIB University of Ghent in Belgium, says that the yield of bio-ethanol from the wood of GM poplar trees can be as much as 81% higher than conventional counterparts.

"This is just the beginning. The results of the field test confirm that we are on the right track. Further research will allow us to select poplar varieties that are even better suited for bio-ethanol production," added Boerjan.

Bio-ethanol is difficult to produce from wood as lignin, a plant polymer that holds fibers in wood, hinders their breakdown into glucose. Scientists were able to partially suppress a gene involved in the production of lignin.

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