Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Drilling down to the nanometer depths of leaves for biofuels

A xylem cell with fluorescent lignocellulose bands as the major feature
A xylem cell with fluorescent lignocellulose bands as the major feature

Abstract:
By imaging the cell walls of a zinnia leaf down to the nanometer scale, energy researchers have a better idea about how to turn plants into biofuels.

Drilling down to the nanometer depths of leaves for biofuels

Livermore, CA | Posted on July 19th, 2010

In a paper appearing online in the journal Plant Physiology, a team from Lawrence Livermore led by Michael Thelen, in collaboration with researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has used four different imaging techniques to systematically drill down deep into the cells of Zinnia elegans.

Zinnia is a common garden annual plant with solitary daisy like flower heads on long stems and sandpapery, lace shaped leaves. The leaves of seedlings provide a rich source of single cells that are dark green with chloroplasts and can be cultured in liquid for several days at a time. During the culturing process, the cells change in shape to resemble the tube-like cells that carry water from roots to leaves. Known as xylem, these cells hold the bulk of cellulose and lignin in plants, which are both major targets of recent biofuel research.

Using different microscopy methods, the team was able to visualize single cells in detail, cellular substructures, fine-scale organization of the cell wall, and even chemical composition of single zinnia cells, indicating that they contain an abundance of lignocellulose.

"The basic idea is that cellulose is a polymer of sugars, which if released by enzymes, can be converted into alcohols and other chemicals used in alternative fuel production," Thelen said. "But for this to happen efficiently, we need to find ways to see how this is proceeding at several spatial scales."

To get at the sugars is no easy task. The team had to find ways to overcome the hydrophobic protection of crystalline cellulose provided by lignin in the cell wall. The two polymers, collectively called lignocellulose, are very insoluble, resistant to common chemicals and mechanical breakage, and are a superior substance for providing strength and structure to plants.

The detailed three-dimensional molecular cell wall structure of plants remains poorly understood.

"The capability to image plant cell surfaces at the nanometer scale, together with the corresponding chemical composition, could significantly enhance our understanding of cell wall molecular architecture," said Alex Malkin, a member of the LLNL team who is an expert in atomic force microscopy. "A high resolution structural model is crucial for the successful implementation of new approaches for conversion of biomass to liquid fuels."

To make fuels from plant biomass requires a thorough understanding of the organization of cell walls before determining the best methods for cell wall deconstruction into its components. Catherine Lacayo, a postdoctoral scientist working with Thelen and Malkin, has taken the first steps toward a comprehensive approach.

She came up with techniques that reveal the inner structure of cell walls in these single xylem cells, which represent about 70 percent of the cellulose in plants that can be used in fuel processing. "This approach will be useful for evaluating the responses of plant material to various chemical and enzymatic treatments, and could accelerate the current efforts in lignocellulosic biofuel production."

The research is supported by the Department of Energy Genome Sciences Program through the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the DOE's BioEnergy Research Centers in Emeryville and Oak Ridge. It will appear in the September issue of Plant Physiology.

####

About Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Anne M. Stark
(925) 422-9799

Copyright © Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces February 8th, 2016

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Leading bugs to the death chamber: A kinder face of cholesterol February 8th, 2016

From allergens to anodes: Pollen derived battery electrodes February 8th, 2016

Possible Futures

From allergens to anodes: Pollen derived battery electrodes February 8th, 2016

Host-guest nanowires for efficient water splitting and solar energy storage February 7th, 2016

Graphene is strong, but is it tough? Berkeley Lab scientists find that polycrystalline graphene is not very resistant to fracture February 7th, 2016

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories: Berkeley Lab researchers part of team that creates new function in tiny protein shell structures February 6th, 2016

Discoveries

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces February 8th, 2016

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Leading bugs to the death chamber: A kinder face of cholesterol February 8th, 2016

The iron stepping stones to better wearable tech without semiconductors February 8th, 2016

Announcements

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces February 8th, 2016

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Leading bugs to the death chamber: A kinder face of cholesterol February 8th, 2016

From allergens to anodes: Pollen derived battery electrodes February 8th, 2016

Tools

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces February 8th, 2016

Researchers discover new phase of boron nitride and a new way to create pure c-BN February 5th, 2016

Cornell researchers create first self-assembled superconductor February 1st, 2016

New record in nanoelectronics at ultralow temperatures January 28th, 2016

Energy

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Host-guest nanowires for efficient water splitting and solar energy storage February 7th, 2016

February 4th, 2016

Putting silicon 'sawdust' in a graphene cage boosts battery performance: Approach could remove major obstacles to increasing the capacity of lithium-ion batteries January 30th, 2016

Automotive/Transportation

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Researchers develop completely new kind of polymer: Hybrid polymers could lead to new concepts in self-repairing materials, drug delivery and artificial muscles January 30th, 2016

An alternative to platinum: Iron-nitrogen compounds as catalysts in graphene January 28th, 2016

LC.300 Series Nanopositioning Controller from nPoint January 28th, 2016

Research partnerships

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories: Berkeley Lab researchers part of team that creates new function in tiny protein shell structures February 6th, 2016

Polar vortices observed in ferroelectric: New state of matter holds promise for ultracompact data storage and processing February 4th, 2016

Spin dynamics in an atomically thin semi-conductor February 1st, 2016

Graphene shown to safely interact with neurons in the brain January 31st, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic