An Arabidopsis Gene Involved in the Conversion of Aldehydes to Alkanes in Arabidopsis Leaf Wax

 

Introduction

 

Epicuticular wax layers of plants mainly consist of long straight-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons with a variety of substituted groups. Plant waxes have many functions, including increasing plant resistance to biotic stress (e.g., pathogens) and abiotic stress (e.g., temperature changes, drought). Additionally, since wax components have a high caloric content as compared to fossil fuel, they can provide an alternative and renewable hydrocarbon energy source. Currently, though, the process involved in converting aldehydes to alkanes in the plant wax synthetic pathway has not yet been identified. Thus, there is a need for the identification of compositions and methods for altering the level and composition of alkanes in plants.

 

Description of Technology

 

Michigan State University’s technology relates to the identification of a mutant phenotype in the model plant Arabidopsis. Specifically, the SCD2 protein converted aldehydes to alkanes, thereby changing the composition and/or content of epicuticular wax in these plants. As a result of the mutation, waxes were produced with low levels of alkane forms of the fatty acids. This protein may be useful for biochemical transformation of aldehydes to alkanes.

 

Key Benefits

  • Crops with modified waxes provide agronomic benefits: Possible benefits include drought tolerance and enhanced resistance to biotic stress, such as disease and insect damage.
  • Adaptability to several crop species: Genetic analysis suggests that homologous genes are present in other valuable plant varieties.
  • Opportunity to manipulate plant epicuticular wax: Provides genetic methods to manipulate wax composition in current crop species.

 

Applications

  • New assay procedures: Assays can be developed to help screen for enhanced water retention, pathogen/insect resistance, and sensitivity to environmental chemicals.
  • Improved crops: Over-expression of the gene may result in crop plants with more wax and therefore better water retention and better barriers to pathogens and insect pests.
  • Production of alkanes from aldehydes: Alkane products may be used as chemical feedstocks or as biofuels.

 

Patent Status

 

Patent pending

 

Inventors

 

Weiqing Zeng, Hongbo Gao, Yonghua Li, Sheng-Yang He

 

Tech ID

 

TEC2008-0075

 

Patent Information: