Switchgrass plants engineered using Metabolix’s multi-gene expression technology have produced significant amounts of PHA bioplastics in leaf tissues in recently-completed greenhouse trials. This represents the first successful expression of a new functional multi-gene pathway in switchgrass, according to the company. The resulting potential for value-added co-products could improve the economics of switchgrass-derived cellulosic ethanol.
Metabolix has been developing technology to produce PHA polymer in switchgrass for over 7 years. This result validates the prospect for economic production of PHA polymer in switchgrass, and demonstrates for the first time an important tool for enhancing switchgrass for value-added performance as a bioenergy crop.—Dr. Oliver Peoples, Chief Scientific Officer
A detailed paper on the technology entitled “Production of polyhydroxybutyrate in switchgrass, a value-added co-product in an important lignocellulosic biomass crop” was recently accepted for publication in Plant Biotechnology Journal.