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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Crop achilles' heel costs farmers 10 percent of potential yield

Scientists assumed leaves at the top of a plant would be the best at turning higher levels of light into carbohydrates--through the process of photosynthesis -- while the lower shaded leaves would be better at processing the low light levels that penetrate the plant's canopy of leaves. Turns out that in two of our most productive crops, these shaded leaves are less efficient than the top leaves, limiting yield.

Team uses cellulosic biofuels byproduct to increase ethanol yield

Team uses a cellulosic biofuels byproduct to increase ethanol yield

Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10 percent.

Maps of miscanthus genome offer insight into grass evolution

Miscanthus grasses are used in gardens, burned for heat and energy, and converted into liquid fuels. They also belong to a prominent grass family that includes corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Two new, independently produced chromosome maps of Miscanthus sinensis (an ornamental that likely is a parent of Miscanthus giganteus, a biofuels crop) are a first step toward sequencing the M. sinensis genome. The studies reveal how a new plant species with distinctive traits can arise as a result of chromosome duplications and fusions.

Renewable Fuel Standard focus of Fourth Annual Energy Biosciences Institute Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference

The economy, the market, the future, and the uncertainty of the Renewable Fuel Standard were the focus of this year’s Fourth Annual Energy Biosciences Institute Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference.

Tim Slating, regulatory associate at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), began the conference on April 25 at the I-Hotel with an overview and historical perspective of the renewable fuel standard as it stands today.

Team Overcomes Major Obstacle to Cellulosic Biofuel Production

A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods.

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