Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Supercomputer unlocks secrets of plant cells to pave the way for more resilient crops: IBM partners with University of Melbourne and UQ

A computer-generated image of three forms of cellulose, the 'scaffolding' of plant cell walls.
CREDIT:IBM
A computer-generated image of three forms of cellulose, the 'scaffolding' of plant cell walls.

CREDIT:IBM

Abstract:
Scientists from IBM Research and the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland have moved a step closer to identifying the nanostructure of cellulose -- the basic structural component of plant cell walls.

Supercomputer unlocks secrets of plant cells to pave the way for more resilient crops: IBM partners with University of Melbourne and UQ

Melbourne, Australia | Posted on May 21st, 2015

The insights could pave the way for more disease resistant varieties of crops and increase the sustainability of the pulp, paper and fibre industry -- one of the main uses of cellulose.

Tapping into IBM's supercomputing power, researchers have been able to model the structure and dynamics of cellulose at the molecular level.

The work, which was described in a paper published in Plant Physiology, represents a significant step towards our understanding of cellulose biosynthesis and how plant cell walls assemble and function.

The research is part of a longer-term program at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) to develop a 3D computer-simulated model of the entire plant wall.

Cellulose represents one of the most abundant organic compounds on earth with an estimated 180 billion tonnes produced by plants each year. A plant makes cellulose by linking simple units of glucose together to form chains, which are then bundled together to form fibres. These fibres then wrap around the cell as the major component of the plant cell wall, providing rigidity, flexibility and defence against internal and external stresses.

Until now, scientists have been challenged with detailing the structure of plant cell walls due to the complexity of the work and the invasive nature of traditional physical methods which often cause damage to the plant cells.

Dr John Wagner, Manager of Computational Sciences, IBM Research -- Australia, called it a 'pioneering project'.

"We are bringing IBM Research's expertise in computational biology, big data and smarter agriculture to bear in a large-scale, collaborative Australian science project with some of the brightest minds in the field. We are a keen supporter of the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative and we're very excited to see the scientific impact this work is now having,"

Using the IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer at VLSCI, known as Avoca, scientists were able to perform the quadrillions of calculations required to model the motions of cellulose atoms.

The research shows that within the cellulose structure, there are between 18 and 24 chains present within an elementary microfibril, much less than the 36 chains that had previously been assumed.

Dr Monika Doblin, Research Fellow and Deputy Node Leader at the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne said cellulose is a vital part of the plant's structure, but its synthesis is yet to be fully understood.

"It's difficult to work on cellulose synthesis in vitro because once plant cells are broken open, most of the enzyme activity is lost, so we needed to find other approaches to study how it is made," Dr Doblin said.

"Thanks to IBM's expertise in molecular modelling and VLSCI's computational power, we have been able to create models of the plant wall at the molecular level which will lead to new levels of understanding about the formation of cellulose."

IBM Researcher, Dr. Daniel Oehme, said plant walls are the first barrier to disease pathogens.

"While we don't fully understand the molecular pathway of pathogen infection and plant response, we are exploring ways to manipulate the composition of the wall in order to make it more resistant to disease,"

###

The work was undertaken by biologists at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls within the universities of Melbourne and Queensland, in partnership with the IBM Research Collaboratory for Life Sciences.

Housed in the University of Melbourne's Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, the Collaboratory was established to enable IBM and university researchers to work side by side on research in the areas of medicine and computational biology.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jane Gardner

038-344-0181

Copyright © University of Melbourne

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 Links

To download the research paper visit:

To find out more about the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls visit:

To find out more about the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative visit:

About IBM Research:

Related News Press

News and information

'Hot spots' increase efficiency of solar desalination: Rice University engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% June 19th, 2019

New record: 3D-printed optical-electronic integration June 18th, 2019

Can break junction techniques still offer quantitative information at single-molecule level June 18th, 2019

Small currents for big gains in spintronics: A new low-power magnetic switching component could aid spintronic devices June 14th, 2019

Discoveries

'Hot spots' increase efficiency of solar desalination: Rice University engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% June 19th, 2019

New record: 3D-printed optical-electronic integration June 18th, 2019

Can break junction techniques still offer quantitative information at single-molecule level June 18th, 2019

University of Konstanz researchers create uniform-shape polymer nanocrystals: Researchers from the University of Konstanz's CRC 1214 'Anisotropic Particles as Building Blocks: Tailoring Shape, Interactions and Structures' generate uniform-shape nanocrystals using direct polymeriz June 14th, 2019

Materials/Metamaterials

University of Konstanz researchers create uniform-shape polymer nanocrystals: Researchers from the University of Konstanz's CRC 1214 'Anisotropic Particles as Building Blocks: Tailoring Shape, Interactions and Structures' generate uniform-shape nanocrystals using direct polymeriz June 14th, 2019

Laser technique could unlock use of tough material for next-generation electronics: Researchers make graphene tunable, opening up its band gap to a record 2.1 electronvolts May 30th, 2019

Building next gen smart materials with the power of sound May 28th, 2019

ZEN gets $1m grant for graphene-enhanced concrete project May 12th, 2019

Announcements

'Hot spots' increase efficiency of solar desalination: Rice University engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% June 19th, 2019

New record: 3D-printed optical-electronic integration June 18th, 2019

Can break junction techniques still offer quantitative information at single-molecule level June 18th, 2019

Small currents for big gains in spintronics: A new low-power magnetic switching component could aid spintronic devices June 14th, 2019

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

'Hot spots' increase efficiency of solar desalination: Rice University engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% June 19th, 2019

New record: 3D-printed optical-electronic integration June 18th, 2019

Can break junction techniques still offer quantitative information at single-molecule level June 18th, 2019

University of Konstanz researchers create uniform-shape polymer nanocrystals: Researchers from the University of Konstanz's CRC 1214 'Anisotropic Particles as Building Blocks: Tailoring Shape, Interactions and Structures' generate uniform-shape nanocrystals using direct polymeriz June 14th, 2019

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide: Engineered surface treatment developed at MIT can reduce waste and improve efficiency in many processes April 23rd, 2019

Gold nanoparticles to facilitate in-situ detection of amplified DNA at room temperature March 21st, 2019

A Deep tech startup is disrupting dairy industry in Chennai Demo Day at IIT-Madras Research Park February 20th, 2019

Tracking pollen with quantum dots: A pollination biologist from Stellenbosch University in South Africa is using quantum dots to track the fate of individual pollen grains. This is breaking new ground in a field of research that has been hampered by the lack of a universal method February 17th, 2019

Nanobiotechnology

DNA origami to scale-up molecular motors June 13th, 2019

A molecular glue to overcome cancer drug resistance? Small molecule drug may prevent chemotherapy resistance June 7th, 2019

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Present at Upcoming June 2019 Conferences June 2nd, 2019

Chemists build a better cancer-killing drill: Rice U.-designed molecular motors get an upgrade for activation with near-infrared light May 29th, 2019

Research partnerships

2D crystals conforming to 3D curves create strain for engineering quantum devices June 7th, 2019

Shaking hands with human or robot? Nanotubes make them alike as never before June 6th, 2019

Beyond 1 and 0: Engineers boost potential for creating successor to shrinking transistors May 30th, 2019

Laser technique could unlock use of tough material for next-generation electronics: Researchers make graphene tunable, opening up its band gap to a record 2.1 electronvolts May 30th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project