070028: Increased Starch and Soluble Sugar Accumulation in Plants for Biofuels


The use of plant photosynthetic tissue, such as leaves and stems, for use as feedstock for biofuels requires desegregation and degradation of the most abundant form of fixed carbon, plant cell walls. Cell walls typically account for 90 to 95 percent of the fixed carbon in plant tissue, and due to their extreme complexity and recalcitrance to digestion, they necessitate time and cost intensive pretreatments before fermentation for ethanol production.



Michigan State University’s invention provides a means to block the transport of fixed carbon from leaves, retaining the excess carbon as starch and soluble sugars within the leaf cells. The reallocation of starches and sugars occurs in response to cold treatment, which may allow for late-season growth. The discovery provides an ideal opportunity to redirect the deposition of carbon from cell walls to starch and soluble sugars that are much more readily fermentable as biofuel feedstocks.



·         Increase in dry leaf weight: Accumulation of total starch and soluble sugars ranges from 20-50 percent of the dry leaf weight, providing a large store of starch and soluble sugars that could be more easily converted to ethanol for biofuel.

·         Reversible process: This phenotype is inducible by non-freezing low temperature treatment and is reversible by returning to normal growth temperatures.



This invention has the potential to positively impact all crops used as feedstock for biofuels.


IP Protection Status

Patent pending


Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University - Test
Dean Dellapenna