Enhancing the Sugar, Starch, and Cellulose Content in Plants

Technology #ua14-047

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Eliot Herman
Professor, Plant Sciences
Managed By
Tod Mccauley


This technology comprises an approach to “fool” the whole plant or targeted tissues of the plant to perceive low nitrogen status. The goal is to induce the plant to remodel its growth into increasing the ratio of carbon to nitrogen via reprogrammed metabolism. By genetically manipulating the plant’s perception of nitrogen status, and therefore apparent nitrogen availability, it is feasible to induce the plant to redirect a large fraction of carbon flux from protein to carbohydrate polymers.


Asparagine (Asn) is one of the primary nitrogen transport vehicles and cellular nitrogen sources in plants, thus the concentration of free Asn in plant cells is a determinant of nitrogen status and is one of the primary regulators of plant growth and development.


  • Accelerates a plants life cycle and enhances growth
  • Enhances a plants carbon fixation rate
  • Results in increasing carbon allocation into greater specific concentration of sugars and their derived starch and cellulose polymers


  • For crops where free sugar is a desired output, examples, sweeter fruit (tomato for example), seeds (sweet peas), and free sugar as a product, (sugar beet)
  • Enhance starch output in vegetative cells, examples might include biomass starch such as maize stover
  • Enhance cellulose content for biomass as well as paper/wood.
  • Enhance growth, accelerated life cycle to expand range into double cropping and shorter growing season
  • Enhanced root growth that may provide added drought tolerance and increase the capacity of the plant to acquire nutrients without application (mineral is one example)


Eliot Herman


Tod McCauley

Licensing Manager, Tech Launch Arizona


O: 520-626-7916