Scientists have found a way to increase fermentable sugar stores in plants which could lead to plant biomass being easier to convert into eco-friendly sustainable biofuels. Their research is highlighted in the latest issue of Business, the quarterly highlights magazine of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Using the plant Arabidopsis, Dr Paul Dupree and his team have found three enzymes responsible for the production of all detectable levels of a type of sugar called glucomannan. Their research also shows that the quantity of glucomannan can be increased or decreased in the stem with no visible detrimental effects on plant development or cell wall strength. However, the researchers found that changes in glucomannan levels had a detrimental effect on seed development.