Australian researchers manipulate plant walls in hopes of easing biofuel production

October 3, 2018 |

In Australia, researchers from the University of Melbourne show how plant walls could be manipulated in the future to change the way we produce biofuels, bioplastics and other biomaterials. In particular, understanding how to control the production of flexible primary walls, which support cell growth, has been an important goal for biologists.

The sugar-based polymers in these walls could be used for a range of applications—like converting them into biofuel, providing new types of green nano-materials or developing bioplastics.

In the new study, they have identified ‘master switches’ that can turn on primary wall production. Astonishingly, these switches can make cells producing thick primary walls that can even be used to replace secondary walls.

The capacity to combine the ease of breaking primary wall sugar polymers apart, with the secondary walls’ ability to grow thickly, means we can potentially completely change the content of the biomass of plants, from something that is strong but difficult to break apart to something that is more plastic and easy to dissolve.

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Category: Research

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