Biologists at the University of York have established new research links with Chinese scientists at Sichuan University to investigate biodiesel production.
Professor Ian Graham led a delegation of scientists from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) at York to Sichuan University in China. The trip was funded by the British Consulate-General Office in Chongqing as part of the UK-China Partners in Science Program.
The CNAP scientists participated in a workshop arranged to explore production of biodiesel from the bush Jatropha curcas.
CNAP is a research center focused on realizing the potential of plant-and microbial-based renewable resources through gene discovery. CNAP’s research in plant and microbial sciences is supported by the UK Research Councils, particularly the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as well as the DTI and DEFRA, and funding from European and US organizations.
The Graham Laboratory at CNAP in particular is focused on the regulation of plant metabolism in order to understand what controls the synthesis and breakdown of plant products such as oils and proteins.
Plant seeds are the system of choice for these studies. An understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the control of plant metabolism is essential if we are to realize the potential of crop plants as factories for the production of novel products such as nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals or renewable and environmentally friendly alternatives to petrochemicals.
Among the projects of the lab at CNAP are:
Modifying fatty acid metabolism in oilseeds to increase yields of novel oils;
Regulation of embryogenesis and storage reserve accumulation in seeds; and
Metabolomic and transcriptomic analysis to identify genes and metabolites that are key in regulating triacylglycerol (TAG) content in oilseeds.