From GMO duck weed offered to make biofuel : That’s why it’s better

(ORDO NEWS) — Today, all biofuel feedstock is grown in the ground and occupies valuable hectares. Duckweed can simply be grown in wastewater, and the biofuel obtained from it turns out to be no worse than the traditional one.

Researchers have long been looking for ways to create biofuels without planting vast fields of corn and rapeseed. It seems they now have a solution to the problem!

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have been able to develop genetically modified duckweed that can be used to create biofuels.

They started with an existing species of duckweed known as Lemna japonica , to which they added several genes already known to control oil synthesis in other organisms.

Fuel from the swamps

One of these genes stimulates (increases) the production of fatty acids, the second pulls (collects) these fatty acids into triacylglycerol oils, and the third protects them from environmental degradation by covering the oil droplets with a shell of plant tissue.

As a result, artificial duckweed accumulates oil at almost 10% of its dry weight biomass, which is reported to be 100 times higher than the accumulation rate of this substance in the wild plant counterpart.

The yield of oil from it is also seven times higher than from soybeans. However, unlike soybeans, duckweed crops will not occupy farmland as they will be grown in large containers or ponds.

In fact, scientists suggest that duckweed crops can be grown on liquid waste from pig and poultry farms, which the plants will help clean up by extracting excess nutrients from the water.

One problem is that usually the gene that stimulates the production of fatty acids also slows down plant growth.

To get around this problem, the gene for stimulating fatty acid production was paired with another gene known as a promoter, which is activated in the presence of a special chemical inducer added to the water.

Researchers are currently studying methods for growing duckweed and extracting oil from it on an industrial scale.

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