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JBEI GT collection is a new biofuels research resource
Efforts to advance production of environmentally friendly transportation fuels from plant biomass should be aided by a new glycosyltransferase clone collection compiled by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). A paper on the collection has been accepted for publication in The Plant Journal. The aim of the JBEI GT collection is to provide a functional genomic for researchers in the field of sugar extraction from plant biomass to product fuels.

Glycosyltransferases (GT) are the enzymes responsible for catalysis of simple plant monosaccharides into complex polysaccharides needed for many plant cells function and structures. Large GT families have evolved in plants but their chemical nature has hampered efforts to understand specific functions of the majority of GTs. This hinders bioenergy research efforts to modify plant biomass with a goal to produce maximum amounts of transportation fuels.

In an attempt to address this issue, the JBEI team, led by Dr Joshua Heazlewood, director of the JBEI Plant Systems Biology Programme, have cloned and verified the new clone collection which contains 403 Arabidopsis GTs (the reference plant for poplar and other similar species) and 96 rice GTs (the reference plant for grasses). This represents about 88% of the known Arabidopsis GTs but only about 15% of rice GTs, so the team aim to extend this. Dr Heazlewood explains the ethos and utility behind the clone collection: “Using the unique infrastructure and resources at JBEI, we have provided a collection of high quality GT clones, all of which have been verified by sequencing and are available in easy to use cassettes…We’re making this entire collection available to the plant research community and expect it to drive our basic understanding of GTs and enable the manipulation of cell walls.”

As well as the GT clone collection, the team have produced a set of so-called ‘pBullets’ which are particle bombardment plasmids that mark targeted protein location with high efficiency when shot into cells. The JBEI pBullets are designed to mark elements of the plant endomembrane system, which separates the functional and structural plant cell components. Dr Heazlewood explains how this system could be useful: “Our pBullet vector series is custom designed for efficient bombardment…Researchers generally use large unwieldy plasmids that perform badly when it comes to localizing proteins.”
More information on the JBEI GT collection and the pBullets can be found on the JBEI Website at


Lao, J. et al. (2014). The Plant Glycosyltransferase Clone Collection for Functional Genomics. The Plant Journal (accepted article); DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12577

Press release: The Berkeley Lab; available from [Accessed 24 June 2014].
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