Researchers unlock plants' sugar secret

By | October 14, 2010
A team of British researchers has successfully modified plant genes to more easily access the sugars trapped inside lignocellulose. Researchers first located the two enzymes that appeared to control xylan, which holds approximately one-third of the sugars that could be used for cellulosic ethanol production. The team then removed those enzymes from Arabidopsis plants and discovered that the altered plants functioned as well as traditional plants. Work will immediately begin to apply this discovery to willow trees and, eventually, energy crops such as miscanthus and corn stover.