Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rice: Energy for Us and Our Future?




The components of a plant cell wall are vital to the society in which live since they provide paper, fiber, and a means of both procuring and researching bioethanol. Politics and culture seek alternate energy sources or to discover a way to make them more efficient. When we think of biofuel however, we often miss the complexity of creating bioethanol(a fuel). This is due in part to how difficult it is to introduce widespread use of bioethanol with other mainstream resources in place.  Increasing the biomass of species which contain high amounts of waste every year such as rice can be useful in this search for more efficient energy.

 In the October 2013, Volume 56, Issue 5 of the Journal of Plant Biology Oh et all reported and connected previous and newer information on rice cell wall composition.  The main player in this search for bioethanol is cellulose, a glucose polymer.  It is believed that since cell wall components are highly conserved among many plants, headway can be made by researching further about rice cellulose biosynthesis and comparing that information with that already recorded by the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Researchers have been collecting data for a while now on this subject, yet in rice many of the crucial, cell wall cellulose synthase genes, such as the CesA genes, have yet to be adequately researched. Several genes have been studied in model organisms but not as fully in rice species.

In the future, the field should someday be able to discover more about the biosynthesis genes to aid in this predicament of rice. More information will be needed to form new directions in this field most likely through comparing rice to model organisms like Arabidopsis. We now wonder as a world if we can ever make the transition to to such a source of energy as bioethanol considering the impasses of lack of information of important genes. One thing is certain, it will take time.The entirety of environmentally consciousness boils down to complex genes that in reality we know not very much about for more than a few organisms: it is never as easy as simply converting to a renewable energy.

Posted by Michael Dailing (1)

7 comments:

  1. I like the idea of improving the bioethanol energy while we have been over-consuming our crude energy resources for decades. Lets say we did find the way to modify cell wall cellulose synthase gene and applied it on rice, would it also be able to apply on other plants such as corns? And what is your idea to utilize this “new energy”?

    Yim Hui

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    2. Yes, since the model organisms such as Arabidopsis are the ones we know most about, we can apply that knowledge to others. For instance here at UMASS the Baskin lab works on studying the CesA genes in Brachypodium distachion and in several lines of Nicotiana tobacum. The main idea is just that once we can increase the biomass of a species(especially looking at cellulose production, etc in cells) it will be easier to make it "worth our while" to invest more time and research on making bioethanol a mainstream fuel

      Michael Dailing

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  3. This is a great article! It's more important than ever to find another source of energy to run our planet because we have been depleting our resources faster than it could made. Rice or other food that can used to make energy is a great idea but it raises the question of agriculture. We don't have that much land left on earth that can be used to farm rice and keeping farming in it until the soil loses it's potential.

    Jefi Varghese

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    1. That's very true Jefi, rice is something that is very abundant in farming systems especially in Asia. The waste involved in rice farming is the main player for bioethanol, so you are right on in what you said.

      Michael Dailing

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