Researchers identify gene to improve plant yield, growth for biofuels

Posted 4 days 17 hours ago
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A research team led by professor of biochemistry and molecular biology Debra Mohnen has discovered that manipulation of the same gene in poplar trees and switchgrass produced plants that grow better and are more efficiently converted to biofuels:

Due to the composition of plant cell walls, plant material is not efficiently broken down or deconstructed to the basic sugars that are converted to biofuels.

In a paper published today in Nature Biotechnology, the researchers report that reducing the activity of a specific gene called GAUT4 leads to lower levels of pectin, a...

Building Better Plants

Posted 3 months 2 days ago

UGA plant scientists like professor of plant biology Katrien Devos, pictured, headline the top feature of the new issue of Research Magazine:

In a changing climate, stress tolerance becomes really important, according to Chung-Jui “C.J.” Tsai, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and professor of forestry and natural resources, and genetics. She uses model systems to find mechanisms that are applicable to any plants.

“How do you grow crops—whether they are woody or perennial—under changing climate?” she said. “You could improve the wood quality, but it won’t matter if...

Global Land Project - Future Earth

Posted 1 year 3 months ago
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The third Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Project (GLP 3rd OSM 2016), was held last week at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. The conference, aimed at bringing together the Land System Science community to present, discuss and foster progress towards a sustainable land use future, included the presentation of a working paper (with a UGA anthropology faculty contributor) on lessons learned on biofuel sustainability to date – and from these lessons they distill a set of sine qua nons for sustainable biofuel governance. From the paper's abstract:


Fast-growing trees

Posted 2 years 11 months ago

The creation of biofuels from trees involves a host of challenges, including but certainy not limited to the breakdown of lignin. So researchers have been approaching the problem from a variety of angles and here is the latest glancing blow for renewable energy production:

Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that manipulation of a specific gene in a hardwood tree species not only makes it easier to break down the wood into fuel, but also significantly increases tree growth.

In a paper published recently in Biotechnology for Biofuels, the researchers...

New genetics research: direct conversion of biomass

Posted 3 years 8 months ago

More potentially transformative new research from the department of genetics, this time in the realm of transportation fuels. For sometime now, biofuels have held great promise - and have been the focus of great controversy. But the economics of the conversion process of grasses to fuels may have finally seen its last barrier fall:

Pre-treatment of the biomass feedstock—non-food crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus—is the step of breaking down plant cell walls before fermentation into ethanol. This pre-treatment step has long been the economic bottleneck hindering fuel...