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High Starch in Plant Leaves at Senescence

Inventors: Thomas Sharkey, Sean Weise

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

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Technology Marketing SummaryCurrently, there is a great interest in using plant biomass, instead of grain, to produce ethanol. Starch can easily be used to make ethanol and would improve ethanol production from cellulose. In most plants, though, starch accumulated during the day is usually broken down each night, resulting in very little starch accumulation in the leaves. The quantity of starch present in the leaves of a plant will affect the gross yield and processing efficiency. Since currently existing high starch plants cannot degrade their starch early in their life, they do not grow as fast as plants that can degrade their starch, thus resulting in reduced yields.DescriptionMichigan State University’s technology relates to the creation of a genetically modified crop that might be used for the production of bio-ethanol or directly as an animal feed. Specifically, this invention increases the yield of easily degraded polymers, such as starch, in plants by blocking starch degradation at a developmental point late in the life cycle of the plant. The accumulation of starch in plant leaves is controlled through transgenic expression of an RNAi construct that inhibits expression of normal starch turnover.Benefits
  • Better and higher yielding feedstock for bio-ethanol production: Crops with high starch content would provide a higher yield of fermentable sugars for the production of bio-ethanol due to an increase in sugar content.
  • Better animal feed: Specific maize varieties for use as silage would reduce feed cost for dairy production by providing a rapidly digestible carbohydrate source, allowing reduction of grain supplements.
Applications and Industries

Increasing the yield of starch in plants can result in several applications, including the following:

  • Field corn varieties or feedstock crops for bio-ethanol production
  • Silage maize varieties as animal feedstuff, especially for dairy cattle
More Information

The Inventors
Thomas Sharkey
Sean Weise

Intellectual Property Status
Patent pending.

Categories
Agricultural
Biotechnology

Keywords
Biofuel
Ethanol
Maize
Transgenic Crops

Funding
This work was funded by the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (DOE BER Office of Science DE-FC02-07ER64494).

Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
090067DevelopmentAvailable - Patent Pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.06/10/201106/01/2011

Contact GLBRC About This Technology

To: Thomas Herlache<herlache@msu.edu>