Research on Wood Could Boost Biofuels

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Researchers in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources received a $1.34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to attempt to increase the productivity of trees by genetically modifying certain proteins critical to wood formation. The study could have important implications in using trees as biofuel. Warnell faculty members Scott Harding and Chung-Jui Tsai hope that tweaking the proteins will modify the way trees divide their photosynthate (sucrose and other sugars) between wood-forming and other organs like roots and bark. Wood is the raw feedstock for biofuels, and the research is being funded to learn about the potential of this gene for affecting wood growth, and thus tree growth, under a variety of environmental conditions. For more information go to http://genomicscience.energy.gov.