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March 2nd, 2008
Cell walls in plants made of structural proteins could aid biofuels and nanotechnology
New research has revealed that the first step in building new cell walls in plants is the assembly of a scaffold made of structural proteins, which could lead to engineered plants that are better materials for biofuels production and can aid in nanotechnology as well.
Conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the research determines that the assembling of a scaffold made of structural proteins is a process similar to using a metal or wood scaffold to construct the walls of a building.
When plant cells divide, they assemble molecular building blocks into new cell walls made of carbohydrate and protein, but scientists know almost nothing about how this process occurs.
But the new finding by the research team would help to unlock the secret of this process, leading to better materials for the production of biofuels such as ethanol from cellulose - plant fibers that are a cheaper and more plentiful alternative to the starches currently used.
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