One plant yields 3 clues to biofuel crops
The analysis of gene activity by researchers at Iowa State University and determination of protein structures by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences independently identified three related proteins that appear to be involved in fatty-acid metabolism. The researchers used thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) as the model plant.
The research groups then joined forces to test this hypothesis, demonstrating a role of these proteins in regulating the amounts and types of fatty acids accumulated in plants.
The researchers also showed that the action of the proteins is very sensitive to temperature and that this feature may play an important role in how plants mitigate temperature stress using fatty acids.
The discovery is published online in the journal Nature.
“This work has major implications for modulating the fatty-acid profiles in plants, which is terribly important, not only to sustainable food production and nutrition but now also to biorenewable chemicals and fuels,” says corresponding author Joseph Noel, a professor and director of the Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics at the Salk Institute and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In this photo: The blue areas in this thale cress plant indicate where the fatty-acid-binding protein one gene is expressed and also correspond to regions where high fatty acids would be synthesized by the plant. (Credit: Eve Syrkin Wurtele and Micheline Ngaki)
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