- Number 334 |
- April 4, 2011
Key plant traits yield more sugar for biofuels
Key plant traits yield more
sugar for biofuels.
New clues about plant structure are helping researchers from DOE's BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production.
A research team from the University of California, Riverside, ORNL and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and UCR determined that the amount and composition of lignin in the plant's cell wall interact in an unanticipated way to influence release of sugar from the plant.
Lignin serves as a major roadblock for biofuel production because it forms strong bonds with sugars and interferes with access to these carbohydrates, making it difficult to extract the plant's sugars contained in cellulose and hemicellulose for conversion to transportation fuels.
"The real driver for bioenergy is how to get sugar as cheaply as possible from these recalcitrant materials," UC-Riverside's Wyman said. "We're looking for clues as to which traits in these poplar materials will lead to better sugar release."
[Morgan McCorkle, 865.574.7308,