Enhanced conversion of plant biomass into glucose using transgenic rice-produced endoglucanase for cellulosic ethanol

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The catalytic domain of Acidothermus cellulolyticus thermostable endoglucanase gene (encoding for endo-1,4-β-glucanase enzyme or E1) was constitutively expressed in rice. Molecular analyses of T1 plants confirmed presence and expression of the transgene. The amount of E1 enzyme accounted for up to 4.9% of the plant total soluble proteins, and its accumulation had no apparent deleterious effects on plant growth and development. Approximately 22 and 30% of the cellulose of the Ammonia Fiber Explosion (AFEX)-pretreated rice and maize biomass respectively was converted into glucose using rice E1 heterologous enzyme. As rice is the major food crop of the world with minimal use for its straw, our results suggest a successful strategy for producing biologically active hydrolysis enzymes in rice to help generate alcohol fuel, by substituting the wasteful and polluting practice of rice straw burning with an environmentally friendly technology.

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