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News

Brookhaven Lab joins an alliance to perform research that may lead to improved oilseed crops

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory : 31 March, 2003  (Technical Article)
As a member of the Oilseed Engineering Alliance, the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory will carry out basic research that may enhance the quantity and quality of oils in several crops, such as soybean, canola and sunflower crops.
The goals of the alliance, which is funded by Dow Chemical and Dow AgroSciences, are to improve the nutritional content of the plants, and to use renewable oil-based plant materials in place of fossil fuels in the production of some plastics, chemicals and other industrial materials.

Biochemist John Shanklin, Brookhaven's principal researcher in this project, said, 'Our role is to perform basic scientific investigations that may lead to the development of improved crops.'

Specifically, Brookhaven brings expertise to the alliance in the area of modifying enzymes that determine the composition of plant oils. Shanklin and his team will study how the enzymes work and use that information to improve their properties. By tailoring the properties of enzymes, the researchers hope to improve the properties of oils.

'Genetically modified, enhanced crop plants offer the potential to improve many aspects of agriculture and environmental practices,' Shanklin said. 'Since plants' production of oils is driven by sunlight and there is no waste produced in the process, using plant materials for making industrial products will be beneficial for the environment. This research may help to solve the problem of the world's limited resources.'

The plants used for the experiments will be grown in a laboratory chamber isolated from the outside environment. Brookhaven Lab fully supports all regulatory processes and monitoring that are in place to protect health and the environment.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.
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