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article imagePeaches can help with biofuel production

By Tim Sandle     Mar 26, 2013 in Science
Scientists have managed to use a study of the peach genome to identify genetic aspects of other trees used for biofuels. This is to look for ways to make source materials more efficient for biofuel production.
A biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation. One way to make biofuels is from plant biomass. Cellulosic biomass, for example, is derived from non-food sources, such as trees and grasses, is also being developed as a feedstock for ethanol production.
One of the starting points of biofuel production is with trees from the poplar and willow families. From these trees cellulosic ethanol and higher energy content fuels can be extracted. However, domesticating these types of trees for mass production is not straightforward. To aid this process, scientists have turned towards domesticated fruit trees.
Peaches may not have an immediately obvious link with biofuel production. However, the humble peach tree is one of the most promising, as a source of genes. This is helped by the peach tree and the poplar and willow trees being genetically related (they are part of the rosid 'super family'). The rosids are members of a large clade of flowering plants, containing about 70,000 species.
To analyze the peach tree further, the International Peach Genome Initiative (IPGI) has published the 265-million base genome of the Lovell variety of Prunus persica.
This research has identified molecular "glue" that holds the plant cells together, which is a key barrier to deconstructing biomass into fuels. By study the peach genome scientists have established a plant model for studying genes found in related trees like the poplar. From this the researchers hope to develop methods for improving plant biomass yield for biofuels.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Genetics.
More about Peaches, Biofuel, willow, poplar, Trees
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