Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

NREL researchers use imaging technologies to solve puzzle of plant architecture

28.11.2012
Breakthrough could help optimize capture of sugars for biofuels

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) combined different microscopic imaging methods to gain a greater understanding of the relationships between biomass cell wall structure and enzyme digestibility, a breakthrough that could lead to optimizing sugar yields and lowering the costs of making biofuels.

A paper on the breakthrough, "How Does Plant Cell Wall Nanoscale Architecture Correlate with Enzymatic Digestibility?" appears in the current issue of Science Magazine.

Principal Investigator Dr. Shi-You Ding of NREL said the imaging technologies allowed the interdisciplinary team of scientists to view the plants' architecture at scales ranging from millimeter to nanometer, a range of 1 million to one.

That allowed them to learn not just the plant cell wall architecture, but also the localization of the enzymes responsible for deconstruction of the cell wall polymers and the effects of enzyme action on the cell wall.

They didn't have to resort to wet chemistry, which ascertains the molecular makeup of a substance at the cost of destroying the spatial relationships. "The typical way to understand the structure of biomass is to break down all the individual components so they can be analyzed," Ding, a biologist, said. "The problem with that method is that then you don't know where all the components came from. You lose the structural integrity."

That's a crucial loss, because an understanding of how enzymes digest plants requires an understanding of where everything is inside the cell walls.

"Our imaging techniques gave us a deeper understanding of the cell wall structure and the process of enzyme hydrolysis of cell-wall carbohydrate polymers to release simple sugars," Ding said. "That allows us to optimize the process and reduce costs."

Dr. Paul Gilna, the director of the BESC, in which the project was conducted, added: "This work greatly improves our ability to closely examine the mechanisms behind the scientific improvements we have developed, all of which are targeted at enabling the emergence of a sustainable cellulosic biofuels industry." BESC is a multi-institutional Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Department of Energy Office of Science.

The correlative imaging in real time allowed the team to assess the impact of lignin removal on biomass hydrolysis and to see the nanometer-scale changes in cell wall structure. And, that allowed them to see how those changes affected the rate at which enzymes from two different organisms digested the plant cell walls.

The aim in the biofuel industry is to access the plants' polymeric carbohydrate structures without damaging the basic molecules of which the polymers are constructed. "It's more like dis-assembling a building with wrenches, hammers and crowbars to recover re-useable bricks, wiring, pipes and structural steel than it is like using a wrecking ball or explosives," Gilna said. Enzymes, unlike typical harsh chemical catalysts, excel at this relatively gentle disassembly.

The NREL team examined two enzyme systems – one from a fungus, the other from a bacterium – both holding promise as biocatalysts for producing sugar intermediates for the biofuels industry.

The particular bacterial enzymes studied are organized through a large scaffolding protein into a multi-enzyme complex from which they make a coordinated attack on the cell walls. The separate fungal enzymes act more individualistically, although the ultimate result is cooperative in that case, as well.

The NREL team found that the easier the access to the cell walls, the better and faster the enzymes will digest the material.

In biofuels production, enzymes are needed to greatly speed up the chemical reactions that break down the biomass during fermentation.

The NREL scientists found that the gummy, poly-aromatic non-sugar lignin in plants interferes with enzymes' ability to access the polysaccharides in the cell wall – the stuff that both the enzymes and the industry want.

So, they concluded, ideal pre-treatment should focus on getting rid of the lignin while leaving the structural polysaccharides within the cell walls intact, thus leaving a relatively loose, porous native-like structure that allows easy access by the enzymes and rapid digestion, as opposed to pretreatments that remove some of the spongier carbohydrate polymers and allow the remainder to collapse into tighter and less-accessible structures. To continue the building dis-assembly and salvage analogy, removal of the lignin is like unlocking all of the doors in the building so that the workers can get in to pull out re-useable materials, but without collapsing the overall structure so that access is blocked.

By understanding the changing structure of the plant material, scientists can learn more about how enzymes work.

"The enzyme has evolved to deal with the real structure, not the pretreated, artificially decomposed one," Ding said. "So to understand how the enzyme goes about its business, it is really important to know where cell wall components are located, as well as the various modes of enzyme action."

"Then we can optimize the whole process," Ding said. "By observing where cellulase enzymes are localized and the nanostructural changes in the plant cell wall architecture that their actions produce, we hope to suggest rational strategies for more cost effective pretreatments and better enzymes."

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Visit NREL online at www.nrel.gov

For further information contact NREL Public Relations at 303-275-4090.

David Glickson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nrel.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonellen als Medikament gegen Tumore

HZI-Forscher entwickeln Bakterienstamm, der in der Krebstherapie eingesetzt werden kann

Salmonellen sind gefährliche Krankheitserreger, die über verdorbene Lebensmittel in den Körper gelangen und schwere Infektionen verursachen können. Jedoch ist...

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Hochfeldmagnet am BER II: Einblick in eine versteckte Ordnung

Seit dreißig Jahren gibt eine bestimmte Uranverbindung der Forschung Rätsel auf. Obwohl die Kristallstruktur einfach ist, versteht niemand, was beim Abkühlen unter eine bestimmte Temperatur genau passiert. Offenbar entsteht eine so genannte „versteckte Ordnung“, deren Natur völlig unklar ist. Nun haben Physiker erstmals diese versteckte Ordnung näher charakterisiert und auf mikroskopischer Skala untersucht. Dazu nutzten sie den Hochfeldmagneten am HZB, der Neutronenexperimente unter extrem hohen magnetischen Feldern ermöglicht.

Kristalle aus den Elementen Uran, Ruthenium, Rhodium und Silizium haben eine geometrisch einfache Struktur und sollten keine Geheimnisse mehr bergen. Doch das...

Im Focus: Schmetterlingsflügel inspiriert Photovoltaik: Absorption lässt sich um bis zu 200 Prozent steigern

Sonnenlicht, das von Solarzellen reflektiert wird, geht als ungenutzte Energie verloren. Die Flügel des Schmetterlings „Gewöhnliche Rose“ (Pachliopta aristolochiae) zeichnen sich durch Nanostrukturen aus, kleinste Löcher, die Licht über ein breites Spektrum deutlich besser absorbieren als glatte Oberflächen. Forschern am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) ist es nun gelungen, diese Nanostrukturen auf Solarzellen zu übertragen und deren Licht-Absorptionsrate so um bis zu 200 Prozent zu steigern. Ihre Ergebnisse veröffentlichten die Wissenschaftler nun im Fachmagazin Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700232

„Der von uns untersuchte Schmetterling hat eine augenscheinliche Besonderheit: Er ist extrem dunkelschwarz. Das liegt daran, dass er für eine optimale...

Im Focus: Schnelle individualisierte Therapiewahl durch Sortierung von Biomolekülen und Zellen mit Licht

Im Blut zirkulierende Biomoleküle und Zellen sind Träger diagnostischer Information, deren Analyse hochwirksame, individuelle Therapien ermöglichen. Um diese Information zu erschließen, haben Wissenschaftler des Fraunhofer-Instituts für Lasertechnik ILT ein Mikrochip-basiertes Diagnosegerät entwickelt: Der »AnaLighter« analysiert und sortiert klinisch relevante Biomoleküle und Zellen in einer Blutprobe mit Licht. Dadurch können Frühdiagnosen beispielsweise von Tumor- sowie Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen gestellt und patientenindividuelle Therapien eingeleitet werden. Experten des Fraunhofer ILT stellen diese Technologie vom 13.–16. November auf der COMPAMED 2017 in Düsseldorf vor.

Der »AnaLighter« ist ein kompaktes Diagnosegerät zum Sortieren von Zellen und Biomolekülen. Sein technologischer Kern basiert auf einem optisch schaltbaren...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Konferenz IT-Security Community Xchange (IT-SECX) am 10. November 2017

23.10.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Die Zukunft der Luftfracht

23.10.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Ehrung des Autors Herbert W. Franke mit dem Kurd-Laßwitz-Sonderpreis 2017

23.10.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Magma sucht sich nach Flankenkollaps neue Wege

23.10.2017 | Geowissenschaften

Neues Sensorsystem sorgt für sichere Ernte

23.10.2017 | Informationstechnologie

Salmonellen als Medikament gegen Tumore

23.10.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie