Final Report: Enhanced Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Plants

EPA Grant Number: R829479C007
Subproject: this is subproject number 007 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829479
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program
Center Director: Schumacher, Dorin
Title: Enhanced Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Plants
Investigators: Mooney, Brian Patrick
Institution: University of Missouri - Columbia
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: June 1, 2003 through December 31, 2006 (Extended to December 31, 2007)
RFA: The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research

Objective:

The ultimate goal of the project was to enhance the production of biodegradable plastics in plants. The objectives are to:

  1. Confirm the plastid-targeting of the chimeric Arabidopsis thaliana branched-chain dehydrogenase alpha and beta subunits (AtBCE1α and AtBCE1β).
  2. Confirm the protein-protein association of the chimeric AtBCE1 enzyme (composed of 2α and 2β subunits) with the endogenous plastid dihydrolipoyl acteyltransferase (E2) enzyme.
  3. Generate transgenic plants expressing plastid-targeted AtBCE1 that produce elevated amounts of propionyl-CoA.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

We have generated plant transformation constructs that allow chloroplast targeting of the alpha and beta subunits of the branched-chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase (AtBCE1α and AtBCE1β). These constructs were used to transform Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Due to restriction enzyme site constraints, the two subunits had to be cloned into separate transformation vectors. Plants were then transformed with the individual constructs and also co-transformed with both constructs. Transgenic plants containing the alpha subunit only were generated and shown to contain the transformation construct by PCR. Additionally, some plants were demonstrated to survive on both antibiotics encoded by the transformation vectors and presumably have been co-transformed with the alpha and beta subunits. We subsequently confirmed that both constructs were present in the transgenic plants using PCR followed by DNA sequencing of the amplified products. We are now in the process of confirming that the two proteins encoded by the transformation vectors under control of the 35S promoter are being expressed. Sixteen independent transformation events (transgenic plants) are being evaluated for AtBCE1α/β expression by western blotting. Protein has been isolated from whole leaves as well as from chloroplasts prepared from developing leaves. We have antibodies to both subunits that are being employed in the western blotting. We have data that both subunits are expressed in transgenic plants and are in the process of confirming function and enhanced production of propionyl-CoA in the chloroplasts.

Conclusions

Plants are expressing the proteins necessary to generate increased amounts of the seed chemicals for biodegradable plastic production. We have yet to evaluate fully the potential of these plants to increase the production of biodegradable plastics but are in contact with the company that holds the patents for the bioplastic process. We will pursue licensing of our patents with that company.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 6 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

Scientific Discipline, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Genetics, Geochemistry, Technology, New/Innovative technologies, Environmental Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, bioengineering, biodegradable plastics, plant genes, biotechnology, plant biotechnology, novel plastics

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829479    The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc., Environmental Research and Technology Transfer Program

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829479C001 Plant Genes and Agrobacterium T-DNA Integration
    R829479C002 Designing Promoters for Precision Targeting of Gene Expression
    R829479C003 aka R829479C011 Biological Effects of Epoxy Fatty Acids
    R829479C004 Negative Sense Viral Vectors for Improved Expression of Foreign Genes in Insects and Plants
    R829479C005 Development of Novel Plastics From Agricultural Oils
    R829479C006 Conversion of Paper Sludge to Ethanol
    R829479C007 Enhanced Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Plants
    R829479C008 Engineering Design of Stable Immobilized Enzymes for the Hydrolysis and Transesterification of Triglycerides
    R829479C009 Discovery and Evaluation of SNP Variation in Resistance-Gene Analogs and Other Candidate Genes in Cotton
    R829479C010 Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals
    R829479C011 Biological Effects of Epoxy Fatty Acids
    R829479C012 High Strength Degradable Plastics From Starch and Poly(lactic acid)
    R829479C013 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Energy and Biomass Crops
    R829479C014 Identification of Receptors of Bacillus Thuringiensis Toxins in Midguts of the European Corn Borer
    R829479C015 Coordinated Expression of Multiple Anti-Pest Proteins
    R829479C016 A Novel Fermentation Process for Butyric Acid and Butanol Production from Plant Biomass
    R829479C017 Molecular Improvement of an Environmentally Friendly Turfgrass
    R829479C018 Woody Biomass Crops for Bioremediating Hydrocarbons and Metals. II.
    R829479C019 Transgenic Plants for Bioremediation of Atrazine and Related Herbicides
    R829479C020 Root Exudate Biostimulation for Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon Phytoremediation
    R829479C021 Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Contamination by Metallohistins, a New Class of Plant Metal-Binding Proteins
    R829479C022 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Energy and Biomass Crops
    R829479C023 A Novel Fermentation Process for Butyric Acid and Butanol Production from Plant Biomass
    R829479C024 Development of Vectors for the Stoichiometric Accumulation of Multiple Proteins in Transgenic Crops
    R829479C025 Chemical Induction of Disease Resistance in Trees
    R829479C026 Development of Herbicide-Tolerant Hardwoods
    R829479C027 Environmentally Superior Soybean Genome Development
    R829479C028 Development of Efficient Methods for the Genetic Transformation of Willow and Cottonwood for Increased Remediation of Pollutants
    R829479C029 Development of Tightly Regulated Ecdysone Receptor-Based Gene Switches for Use in Agriculture
    R829479C030 Engineered Plant Virus Proteins for Biotechnology