Biofuels Image of the Month
Biofuels Center president and CEO Steven Burke addresses a press conference in Fletcher, N.C., announcing the organization's $766,256 grant award to a consortium of partners led by AdvantageWest Economic Development Group to fortify the biofuels sector and trigger its expansion in western North Carolina. The project, "Planting the Seeds for a Robust WNC Biofuels Sector," will be collaboratively executed by AdvantageWest and 13 other entities that will themselves invest a 50-percent matching contribution of $383,128, for a total project investment of $1,149,384. Click here
to learn more about this and other project developments in western North Carolina.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: East Carolina University
East Carolina University associate professor Baohong Zhang is currently working on cutting-edge approaches to increasing feedstock yields of Switchgrass for biofuels. Dr. Zhang and his collaborators have found that Switchgrass biomass can be significantly increased by modifying a single small regulatory molecule, called microRNA. The Switchgrass that Zhang is working with has more leaves and a higher tolerance to environmental stressors. The team found that many small regulatory RNAs and their targeted protein-coding genes are expressed when Switchgrass seedlings are exposed to drought and salinity stresses.
By targeting these kinds of molecules in unique ways, it will be possible to increase the biomass yield of biofuels feedstock crops. The initial results obtained by Zhang and colleagues have already been published in peer-reviewed journals. Both graduate students and undergraduate students are involved in the biofuels-related projects. The students are learning to use 21st-century methods to improve crop biomass as well to improve plant tolerance to environmental biotic and abiotic stresses, including drought and salinity. ... + Read more