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New journal publishes important insights into the mechanism of efficient biofuel production
Pretreatment is an essential step in the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass and the production of bioethanol, which together with biodiesel is the principal alternative to fossil fuels. (2008-04-15)

Bio-crude turns cheap waste into valuable fuel
CSIRO and Monash University have developed a chemical process that turns green waste into a stable bio-crude oil. The bio-crude oil can be used to produce high value chemicals and biofuels, including both petrol and diesel replacement fuels. (2008-02-04)

Biomass production -- careful planning can bring many benefits
One way of supplying energy is to grow plant material and burn it. If managed well most of the carbon released by burning the material will be captured by the growing plants, and so have a low impact on overall levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Better still, the growing plants could be used to help solve other environmental problems. (2008-01-15)

New techniques create butanol
A team of researchers headed by an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is plying new techniques to produce a biofuel superior to ethanol. The fuel is butanol, It can be derived from lignocellulosic material, plant biomass parts that range from woody stems, straw, agricultural residues, corn fiber and husks, all containing in large part cellulose and some lignin. (2008-01-15)

Researchers discover natural herbicide released by grass
Cornell University researchers have found that certain varieties of common fescue lawn grass come equipped with their own natural broad-spectrum herbicide that inhibits the growth of weeds and other plants around them. (2007-11-08)

Iowa State engineers hope to build better roads by using ethanol co-products
An Iowa State University research team will do lab tests to determine whether lignin, a co-product of ethanol produced from plant fiber, could be mixed with soil to improve soil strength in roadbeds. That would make for better roads in Iowa and the Midwest. (2007-10-15)

Coal and black liquor can produce energy from papermaking
Adding a little coal and processing the papermaking industry's black liquor waste into synthesis gas is a better choice than burning it for heat, improves the carbon footprint of coal-to-liquid processes, and can produce a fuel versatile enough to run a cooking stove or a truck, according to a team of Penn state engineers. (2007-08-20)

Two bacteria better than one in cellulose-fed fuel cell
No currently known bacteria that allow termites and cows to digest cellulose, can power a microbial fuel cell and those bacteria that can produce electrical current cannot eat cellulose. But careful pairing of bacteria can create a fuel cell that consumes cellulose and produces electricity, according to a team of Penn State researchers. (2007-07-27)

Decoding mushroom's secrets could combat carbon, find better biofuels and safer soils
Researchers at the University of Warwick are co-ordinating a global effort to sequence the genome of one of the world's most important mushrooms -- Agaricus bisporus. The secrets of its genetic make up could assist the creation of biofuels, support the effort to manage global carbon, and help remove heavy metals from contaminated soils. (2007-07-17)

New screening method to help find better biofuel crops
In the face of skyrocketing gasoline prices, ethanol has become a hot commodity along with the corn used to make it. Researchers at the US DOE's Ames Laboratory have developed a method to screen other more cost effective and sustainable crops to produce ethanol. (2007-06-05)

Researchers find plant protein that may aid biofuel production
In a breakthrough that could make the production of cellulosic ethanol less expensive, Cornell researchers have discovered a class of plant enzymes that potentially could allow plant materials used to make ethanol to be broken down more efficiently than is possible using current technologies. (2007-04-27)

Tequila raw ingredient being developed into drug-carrier that targets colon diseases
Compounds derived from the blue agave, a fruit used to make tequila, show promise as a natural, more effective way to deliver drugs to the colon than conventional drug-carriers, according to chemists at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. The discovery could lead to improved treatments for a variety of colon diseases, including ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel and cancer, they say. The research will be presented in March at the American Chemical Society national meeting. (2007-03-27)

Lessons in wood formation from Arabidopsis
In two separate studies published in The Plant Cell, researchers identify key transcription factors that control the expression of genes related to secondary wall formation in the model herbaceous plant Arabidopsis. The presence of similar genes and pathways in tree species suggests that they may play a role in the regulation of wood formation in trees. (2007-03-01)

Developing uses for sugar-cane bagasse: Biotechnology applied to the paper industry
Sugar-cane bagasse is a fibrous waste-product of the sugar refining industry, which can be recycled as a raw material for paper manufacture. IRD researchers have elaborated a new bioprocess that transforms the bagasse into paper pulp and also produces an industrially useful enzyme, laccase. The process is based on the metabolism of a filamentous fungus. Preliminary laboratory trials show that this integrated bioprocess can be adapted to other potential fibre-yielding materials, opening up promising applications for the paper industry. (2006-11-13)

Sequencing of the oyster mushroom genome
Professor of Microbiology at the Public University of Navarre, Antonio Gerardo Pisabarro de Lucas, is leading an international project to sequence the genome of the oyster mushroom. (2006-10-04)

New processing steps promise more economical ethanol production
The largest challenge for bioconversion from raw materials to bioethanol is high processing costs, resulting in higher prices for bioethanol than for gasoline. A Virginia Tech researcher has developed a cost-effective pretreatment process that integrates cellulose solvent pretreatment, concentrated acid saccharification, and organosolv to precipitate dissolved cellulose, extract lignin, and enable effective chemical recycling. After pretreatment and reagent recycling, lignocellulose can be fractionated into four products: lignin, hemicelluose sugars, amorphous cellulose, and acetic acid. (2006-03-30)

Advances in the characterisation of the oyster mushroom genes
The oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), apart from reducing cholesterol and having anticancerogenic properties, is characterised for its capacity for breaking down cellulose. Finding out which genes are responsible for this activity - the reason why the fungus is sometimes used as a decontaminating agent, was the aim of the PhD thesis by Arantza Eizmendi Goikoetxea, which she defended at the Public University of Navarre. (2005-03-15)

Scientists discuss improved biopesticides for locust control in West Africa
Last year, locusts stripped fields of crops and trees of foliage across several countries, causing severe income and food supply loss. This year, enhanced biopesticides will be used as a defense targeted to locusts when they return with the spring rains. (2005-02-04)

JGI decodes wood & toxic waste-degrading fungus genome
The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) announces the publication, in the journal Nature Biotechnology, of a high-quality draft genome sequence of the white rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium. These are the only known microbes capable of efficiently degrading the recalcitrant aromatic plant polymer lignin, one of the most abundant natural materials on earth. They also have demonstrated the ability to remediate explosive contaminants, pesticides and toxic waste with similar chemical structures to lignin. (2004-05-03)

More useful plants may sprout from gene role discovery
It may be possible to alter plants so they are more nutritious and easier to process without weakening them so much they fall over, according to Purdue University researchers who found a new twist in a plant formation biochemical pathway. (2004-04-19)

Climate change could release old carbon locked in Arctic soils, researchers say
Scientists have been able to determine the approximate age of dissolved organic carbon in the Arctic for the first time. Most of the carbon that reaches the ocean is relatively young at present, but this could change. Warming of the Arctic could affect northern peats, collectively one of the largest reservoirs of organic carbon on Earth. As the carbon-rich soils warm, the carbon is more susceptible to being transported to the ocean by rivers small and large. (2004-03-02)

New herpes treatment from common herb
A new anti-herpes agent derived from a common herb effectively treats and prevents the disease in animals. Researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia present their data today at the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. (2003-05-19)

Cloned gene may help crops and livestock meet future needs
Improved digestibility of livestock feed, hardier crops and higher yield of biofuels may result from information that Purdue University researchers are learning about the sorghum gene that controls plant cell wall hardness. The scientists have cloned the gene and also developed markers that allow molecular identification of three mutations of the gene. (2003-04-11)

Transgenic trees hold promise for pulp and paper industries
By genetically modifying aspen trees, Dr. Vincent L. Chiang, professor of forest biotechnology, and his colleagues have reduced the trees' lignin content by 45 to 50 percent - and accomplished the first successful dual-gene alteration in forestry science. According to Chiang, the NC State research shows not only a decrease in lignin but also an increase in cellulose in the transgenic aspens. And their work demonstrates another benefit: the trees grow faster. (2003-04-01)

Scientists find evidence for crucial root in the history of plant evolution
The massive floral colonization of ancient Earth, which could be responsible for life as we now know it, may have been spurred by a single genetic mutation -- the ability of plants to make lignin, a chemical process that leads to the formation of a cell wall. Researchers will present their findings at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans in March. (2003-03-25)

Space Shuttle returns first soybeans grown on Space Station in commercial farming experiment
Like farmers across the nation bringing in their crops this season, researchers in Wisconsin are carefully taking stock of a very special harvest - one grown aboard the International Space Station. They've measured and weighed plants, counted seeds, and collected additional physical information from the first-ever soybean crop grown aboard the orbiting research laboratory. (2002-11-01)

Colorado U. to fly hardware, experiments on space shuttle, space station
Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder will be flying several biomedical and agricultural experiments on NASA's space shuttle Atlantis slated for launch Oct. 2, some of which will be transferred to the International Space Station. (2002-09-27)

Wild plant or food plant?
Distinctly sculptured opaline phytoliths in soil and plant remains tell archaeologists which plants were present thousands of years ago. However, the production and purpose of these tiny glassy structures common in plant tissues is poorly understood. Dolores Piperno at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and colleagues predict that a single genetic locus controls both lignin and phytolith production in squash (Cucurbita spp.), making phytoliths even better evidence of plant domestication events. (2002-07-30)

Industry explores renewable resources, such as lignin
At professional meetings worldwide, polymer chemists are organizing sessions to look at such renewable resources as starch; wood-derived cellulose, xylan, and lignin; chitin; and other carbohydrates. (2002-04-11)

The nanoscience of wood structure - Nature was there first
Xylan is the glue in wood that provides a smooth transition from the highly-crystalline cellulose to the glass-like lignin. (2002-04-11)

Researchers discover gene that could be key in evolution of hardwoods
Researchers at Michigan Technological University have discovered a gene that may have played a key role in the evolution of hardwood trees such as oaks and maples. Their work is featured on the cover of the July 11 issue of The Plant Cell. (2001-07-11)

Vegetable 'immune systems' protect better against food spoilage
Cornell biologists' review of traditional recipes in 36 countries suggests that vegetable-based foods have better built in protection from pathogens and don't need antimicrobial spices. (2001-07-09)

Wolfgang Glasser receives ACS award for wood chemistry, bio-based composites research
For his lifetime of research accomplishments dealing with the structure, properties, and use of wood-derived polymers, the American Chemical Society's Division of Cellulose, Paper, and Textiles has honored Wolfgang Glasser, professor of wood science at Virginia Tech, with the Anselme Payen Award. (2001-06-19)

Monsanto's modified soya beans don't agree with the heat
Researchers in the U.S. have found that Monsanto's herbicide- resistant soya beans are cracking up in the heat. When grown in hot climates, genetic alterations to the plant seem to cause the stems to split open causing crop losses of up to 40 per cent. (1999-11-16)

New aspen could revolutionize pulp and paper industry
Researchers at Michigan Tech have genetically engineered a new breed of aspen that could revolutionize pulp and paper production. Fast-growing, low-lignin aspen should yield more paper and less pollution for pulp manufacturers. (1999-07-28)

New Study Shows Group Of Marine Bacteria Dominate Offshore Waters Of Southeast, May Play Key Role In Ecosystem Processes
A new study by marine scientists at the University of Georgia is uncovering intriguing and expected clues about marine bacteria. Most interesting may be the dominance of bacteria from the so-called (1998-04-24)

Penn State Researchers Study Used Mushroom Compost
Penn State researchers will study mushroom substrate, the medium in which commercial mushrooms are grown, with an eye toward the best recycling method. (1997-08-12)

Novel CU-Boulder Plant Chamber Set For July 1 Reflight On Space Shuttle
A University of Colorado at Boulder-built plant-growth chamber that carried pharmaceutical and agricultural experiments aboard an abbreviated NASA space shuttle mission in April will be reflown on a 16-day mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia July 1. (1997-06-23)

High-Tech CU-Boulder Plant Chamber To Fly On Upcoming Shuttle Mission
A high-tech plant-growth chamber developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder that contains intriguing pharmaceutical and agricultural experiments will blast off on NASA's space shuttle Columbia from Florida on April 4 (1997-04-02)

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