Jerusalem artichoke studied as feedstock

By | April 14, 2009
The Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources in Danville, Va., is studying the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosis), a perennial native sunflower species, as a feedstock for producing ethanol. The plant produces inulin, a fructose polymer, and stores it in its stem until it flowers. The inulin is then translocated to the tuber. To improve the plant's potential as a feedstock for ethanol, the institute is identifying the genes that regulate flowering and the translocation of sugars, according to M. Javed Iqbal, the lead researcher. Iqbal said they plan to modify the genes to prolong the growing season, increase sugar production and delay the translocation of sugars.