Image by bramblejungle on Flickr

Scientists from Michigan State University appear to have made a significant advancement in biofuel research, at least if some chubby worms are to be believed. The scientists are attempting to use a gene found in Algae involved in oil production to engineer plants that can store oil not just in their seeds but in the stem and leaves also. Biofuel production has typically focused on plant’s seeds because that is where oil occurs naturally, but plants that can be engineered to store oil throughout the entire plant could hold significantly more oil than plants that can’t.

The scientists tested their new plants by using them to feed Caterpillar Larvae. The Caterpillars fed with the oily leaves from the enhanced plants gained more weight than those fed with regular plant leaves. Christopher Benning, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at MSU, said “If oil can be extracted from leaves, stems and seeds, the potential energy capacity of plants may double. Further, if algae can be engineered to continuously produce high levels of oil, rather than only when they are under stress, they can become a viable alternative to traditional agricultural crops.”

With these advancements in biofuel production, how much longer do you think it will be until Biofuels finally catch up with Fossil Fuels?