Enhanced saccharification of rice straw by overexpression of rice exo-glucanase
1 Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, 1-1 Tsutsumidori-Amamiyamachi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 981-8555, Japan
2 Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science, Hirosaki University, Bunkyo-cho, Hirosaki, 036-8560, Japan
Rice 2012, 5:14 doi:10.1186/1939-8433-5-14Published: 28 June 2012
Efficient production of carbon-neutral biofuels is key to resolving global warming and exhaustion of fossil fuels. Cellulose, which is the most abundant biomass, is physically strong and biochemically stable, and these characteristics lead to difficulty of efficient saccharification of cellulosic compounds for production of fermentable glucose and other sugars.
We transformed rice with overexpressing constructs of rice genes encoding each of three classes of cellulases. The exo-glucanase overexpressing plants showed various abnormalities in leaf such as division of leaf blade, crack on leaf surface, excess lacunae in midrib structure and necrotic colour change. The overexpressing plants also showed sterility. Noticeably, these plants showed enhanced saccharification of stems after maturation. These results indicate that overexpression of the exo-glucanase gene brought about various developmental defects associated with modification of cell wall and enhanced saccharification in rice. On the other hand, endo-glucanase-overexpressing plants could not be obtained, and overexpression of β-glucosidase brought about no effect on plant growth and development.
Our results indicate that genetic engineering of cellulosic biomass plants by overexpressing cellulase genes will be one of the approaches to confer enhanced saccharification ability for efficient production of cellulosic biofuels such as ethanol.