Psychedelic Corn Could be the Key to Better Biofuels
Pennsylvania State University scientists are bringing psychedelics back into the limelight — however this time rather than fueling mind-melting trips they could be powering our cars. The Pennsylvania State researchers recently published an article detailing their discovery of a set of genes that help transport carbohydrates through corn plants. It just so happens those genes are called psychedelics — because of the green and yellow stripes they cause in corn leaves — and the researchers believe that with some manipulation they could increase crop yields, assist with drought resistance, and improve the amount of biofuel available in each plant.
It turns out that the same “psychedelic” gene that causes the striped plant leaves is also in control of carbohydrate movement around the plant. In researching and isolating this gene researchers were able to better understand this movement. Their research led them to discovering two previously unknown genes that assist in this process and a previously undiscovered biological pathway for carbohydrates within the plant. Manipulating the pathway and the newly discovered genes that control it could mean huge things for crop efficiency. This process is instrumental in crop growth and yield, and the researchers hope that this discovery will assist them in modifying the plant to grow faster or yield larger amounts of fuel or food from one harvest.
“This study shows that there is still a lot to learn about genes that control carbohydrate distribution in plants,” noted David Braun, Ph.D in a conversation with Science Daily. He added that by, “learning how these genes work, I hope we’ll be able to improve plant growth and crop yield to solve some of the serious challenges concerning sustainable food and fuel production.” Researchers hope that this pathway will be lead the way to a highly effective new strain of maize for biofuel production in addition to plants that can withstand low amounts of water and less fertile soil.
Via Science Daily
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