Proteins Interactions Hold Key for Maximizing Oil Production in Plants for Biofuels and Biomaterials

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In New York, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory see a link between plants’ sugar and oil production that can increase yields and development of biofuels and biomaterials from plants. They found that when plants have plenty of sugar, they produce plenty of oil, but when plant sugars drop, they produce less oil. Given that sugars are like energy and oil production takes lots of energy, it makes sense that when a plant has a plethora of sugars available, it can produce oil without a problem.

They found that a protein called WRINKLED1 is what signals oil production to start or increase, but when sugars are low, a protein KIN10 would basically tell WRINKLED1 to destroy itself, thus decreasing or stopping oil production from happening. The scientists hope that knowing this can help them figure out a way to help prevent WRINKLED1 from being shut down by KIN10 so plants can produce more oil and help the biofuels and biomaterials industries.