Sorghum is a promising bioenergy crop. However, the thick secondary cell walls of the stems of this plant are difficult to break down into components that could become fuel. Recent research led by the Joint BioEnergy Institute on structural details of specific molecules and their interactions in sorghum grass cell walls suggests ways to ease deconstruction of this bioenergy crop.
In a study recently published in Nature Communications, a multi-institutional team of scientists from the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis, and the Joint BioEnergy Institute and Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory investigated how two sugar-based components of secondary cell walls, xylan and cellulose, interact in this grass.
Using structural information from multi-dimensional solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments to model the cell wall structure of sorghum. Predictive cell structure models could help identify the most stubborn components of bioenergy crops and inform ways to better deconstruct biomass.
Read more on the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory news page.