A new generation of fuel crops—plants designed specifically to serve as feedstocks for fuels—would provide a clean, green and renewable alternative to the burning of fossil fuels, but only if their production is cost effective. These biofuels would require, among other developments, plants whose sugars are readily extracted and fermented into fuels by microbes.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have demonstrated that proteomic technology may offer a way to harness this exciting potential. Proteomics, a branch of the life sciences that studies proteins or peptides, particularly their functions and interactions, specifically considers technologies suited for large-scale, multiplexed analysis of proteins and peptides. Proteomics differs from conventional protein analysis such as immunoassay because it measures more than one protein or peptide simultaneously from a single sample.
Benjamin Schwessinger, a grass geneticist with JBEI’s Feedstocks Division, and his colleagues conducted the first proteomic analysis of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a North American native prairie grass widely viewed as one of the most promising of all the fuel crops.
“Plant cell walls or biomass are costly to deconstruct for sugar release for downstream applications such as biofuels, but genetic modifications to plant cell wall structure could result in significant downstream economic impacts,” Schwessinger explains.
In profiling the switchgrass endomembrane from 10-day old dark grown shoots, Schwessinger and his team identified 1,750 unique proteins in shoots of the hardy perennial crop.
“That we were able to identify such a large number of proteins in our samples shows that proteomics will be useful when we start digging for proteins that will enable us to manipulate switchgrass for increased biofuel production.”
The global proteomics market is expected to more than double its $5 billion value in 2014 to more than $11.6 billion in 2019, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. The main proteomics market segments include research, drug discovery and development, diagnostics and applied (agricultural, environmental and forensics).
The research/drug discovery and development segment of the market is forecast to reach almost $6.8 billion in 2019, up from almost $4 billion in 2014, corresponding with an 11.4% CAGR.
Rapid changes in technical fields such as biochips, mass spectrometry, single cell analysis and multi-omics are driving new products and applications in proteomics, creating unique market opportunities.
For our BCC Research report on proteomics, visit the following link: