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Genetically Modified Tobacco Leaves Make Biofuel Efficiently


Ph.D. Vyacheslav Andrianov, from Jefferson University found a way to boost the production of biofuel from genetically modified tobacco leaves.

I’ve always thought that the best method of quitting smoking was to hit smokers in their pockets first. I’m not a smoker, and I won’t ever be. Well, it looks like now tobacco is going into the lion’s mouth, the energy fiel.

The news is even more exciting as he proved genetically modified tobacco is more effective than any other agricultural crops, including corn and other foods that make cars compete with humans.

Oil makes up to 40 percent of tobacco seeds’ dry weight, but the seeds only count for 600 kg per acre in a normal tobacco crop. To make the plant viable for efficient biofuel production, dr. Andrianov found ways to genetically modify tobacco so the leaf  yields up to 6.8 percent of oil per dry weight, compares to 1.7 to 4 percent in a normal plant.

The researchers modified the overexpression of one of two genes in tobacco leaves: the diacyglycerol acytransferase (DGAT) gene or the LEAFY COTYLEDON 2 (LEC2) gene. The modification of the first only yielded 5.8 percent oil, while the second 6.8 percent, as mentioned earlier.

The perspectives are bright, as the researcher sees them: “Tobacco is very attractive as a biofuel because the idea is to use plants that aren’t used in food production,” Dr. Andrianov said. “We have found ways to genetically engineer the plants so that their leaves express more oil. In some instances, the modified plants produced 20-fold more oil in the leaves.”

So, next time you want to quit smoking and you do succeed, think you may have helped the industry save your share of corn crops for someone in need, besides saving your health for your kid’s sake.

[via physorg]

the diacyglycerol acytransferase (DGAT) gene or the LEAFY COTYLEDON 2 (LEC2) gene.
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  1. Just to add to the comment by Larry H.,

    People tend to look at commodities, markets and issues in a very simplistic way.
    Corn is a multi-role commodity that was a stepping stone in an ever faster evolving world of energy. To focus on “corn” or the multitudes of starving people” in the world is very naive.
    The markets, regardless of the product are highly interactive, interdependent,elastic and always improving.
    You can also take individual initiatives if you FEEL strongly about products like corn or tobacco, such as NOT buy them.

  2. This sounds like a good idea.

    I sure do wish that urban legend that making ethanol from corn somehow takes corn out of poor starving peoples mouthes would die out. That is nothing but a myth.

    We grow more than enough corn for all markets and can double our production if we can find more uses for corn.

    If we quit making pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and plastics out of corn, along with the bio fuels, we will have to reduce our corn production massively, forcing millions of acres back into very expensive subsidized government set aside programs to not grow food on it.

    This will cost taxpayers many billions more in subsidies.

    Of course, millions of corn acres will then be used for growing tobacco. Make sense to you?


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