DTU researchers look at how isoprenoids in plants can be mitigated

May 21, 2020 |

In Denmark, you cannot see them with the naked eye, but most plants emit volatile gases – isoprenoids – into the atmosphere when they breathe and grow. Some plants emit close to nothing; others emit kilograms annually.

Isoprenoids contribute immensely to the amounts of hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere, where they can be converted into potent greenhouse gases, affecting climate change. Actually, it has been estimated that short-chain isoprenoids account for more than 80% of all volatile organic compounds emitted from all living organisms, totaling about 650 million tons of carbon per year.

Researchers from the Technology University of Denmark say crops that emit a lot of isoprene include palm oil trees, spruce, which is grown for timber, and aspen trees, which are grown for timber and biofuel. With this knowledge, farmers could in principle optimize forest land and farming area by planting fewer high-emitter-plants and more zero-emitters.

The researchers behind this study are now looking into the possibility of using this new knowledge in applied biotech. The researchers actually discovered the new regulatory mechanism, because they tried to engineer the bacterium E. coli to produce sought-after isoprenoids, which could replace many fossil fuel chemicals if they could be produced more cheaply.

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Category: Research

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