Scientists of Purdue University have discovered a gene that helps in the production of amino acid, phenylalanine. The finding can prove helpful in controlling amino acid to increase the nutritional value of plants, and produce higher quality of biofuel feedstocks.
An horticulture professor, Natalia Dudareva, and a researcher working in the professor’s laboratory, Hiroshi Maeda have found that this gene is one among the 10 genes that are responsible for production of phenylalanine in plants. If the process of amino acid production is found, it can help in increasing or decreasing the amino acid production.
Phenylalanine is essential for anti-oxidants and flower-scent production, as well as for the plant protein synthesis. It is also vital for the production of lignin, which is a key plant cell wall component helping the plants to stand upright, and provide protection during cellulosic ethanol production. Phenylalanine is an important amino acid that cannot be synthesized by animals or humans, only plants can do it.
When phenylalanine production is reduced, the lignin production can be decreased, improving the cellulosic materials digestibility. Meanwhile, increasing the production of phenylalanine can increase the nutritional value of the plants.