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.