Energy-rich lipids—with two times more energy than carbohydrates or proteins—are life’s primary molecules for energy storage. Preventing the breakdown of lipids as leaves age during the process of senescence is estimated to increase the energy content of leaves by about 20%. GLBRC researchers systematically studied the age-dependent changes in the fatty acids of Arabidopsis, Brachypodium distachyon (a model grass), and switchgrass leaves during natural plant senescence. Researchers found that surface lipids were more stable during senescence than membrane lipids, thus a potential strategy for increasing the energy content of biofuel crops might be to enhance surface lipid production.
Reference: This research was reported in Yang, Z., and J. B. Ohlrogge. 2009. “Turnover of Fatty Acids During Natural Senescence of Arabidopsis, Brachypodium, and Switchgrass and in Arabidopsis ?-Oxidation Mutants,” Plant Physiology 150, 1981–89.
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