January 30, 2009

Bacteria boost biofuel feedstock

Dose trees with the right bacteria and you can get them to grow faster and produce more biomass on marginal lands, which could boost production of biofuel feedstock and reduce the competition for cropland between biofuels and food.

A study of bacteria that live in poplar trees found that one bacteria species in particular strongly promotes root growth in poplar cuttings compared to cuttings without bacteria. The study, which involved sequencing the bacteria's genome and analyzing its metabolic processes, found that the bacteria produces hormones that promote poplar growth.

The knowledge could help efforts to grow biofuel feedstock on contaminated and nutrient-poor land.

Research paper:
Genome Survey and Characterization of Endophytic Bacteria Exhibiting a Beneficial Effect on Growth and Development of Poplar Trees
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, February 2009

Researchers' homepages:
van der Lelie and Taghavi lab, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Lee Newman
Adam Hoffman
Nele Weyens
Tanja Barac
Jaco Vangronsveld

Related stories and briefs:
Cheaper cellulosic ethanol on tap -- related research

Back to ERN February 9/16, 2009



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