Green Car Congress  
Home Topics Archives About Contact  RSS Headlines

« London Council Proposes Emission-Based Charging for Resident Parking | Main | Bosch and Denso Establish European Joint Venture for Diesel Particulate Filters »

Print this post

Joint DOE, USDA Grant Funds Development of Poplar Trees Optimized for Ethanol Feedstock

26 October 2006

A scientist at North Carolina State University has received a $700,000 grant funded jointly by the US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) to develop optimized versions of the eastern cottonwood tree (poplar) that can more easily be converted into ethanol.

The poplar is the only tree with a sequenced genome. (Earlier post.) Dr. Vincent Chiang wants to isolate the genes that regulate the manufacture of the three major components of wood: lignin, cellulose, and hemicelluloses.

Poplar’s extraordinarily rapid growth and its relatively compact genome size—480 million nucleotide units, 40 times smaller than the genome of pine—are among the many features that led researchers to target poplar as a model crop for biofuels production.

We want to understand at the genome level what controls the synthesis of the three major components of wood. If we can find the regulators that tell a tree to make more of one component and less of another, then we can engineer trees that are enriched with polysaccharides—a perfect feedstock for ethanol production.

—Dr. Vincent Chiang

Cellulose and hemicelluloses are sugar polymers that can be converted into simple sugars, such as glucose, and then fermented to become ethanol. Collectively, cellulose and hemicelluloses are called polysaccharides. Wood is a great source of these polysaccharides— the substances represent approximately 70% of wood’s weight.

Extracting polysaccharides from wood or from any plant biomass is difficult because they are contained within lignin, a polymer that glues polysaccharides together to form wood. The lignin needs to be broken down with the use of acids or other substances, which makes extracting the polysaccharides challenging.

We have engineered trees with less lignin, and as a result we know that those trees are very useful for ethanol production. Now we’re interested in looking not just at genes that control lignin production, but at the genes that regulate how polysaccharides are made in wood.

—Dr. Chiang

October 26, 2006 in Biotech, Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Joint DOE, USDA Grant Funds Development of Poplar Trees Optimized for Ethanol Feedstock:


Excellent path!

So does this increase the value of my 3/4 inch X 5"W
poplar harwood floors I have installed in my house?

Toss them into a gasifier whole.Link Here

They can use a lot of forest waste for gasification. With 1 billion tons of biomass from ag and forest waste per year in the U.S. we should have enough, without fuel crops.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Green Car Congress © 2017 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group