Nicotiana glauca biomass harvested on 6 May 2015 at RHUL

On 6th May 2015, 208 specimens of transgenic and wild-type N. glauca were harvested from the polytunnel-bred trial at MultiBioPro partner Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) and sent to partner Pilot Pflanzenöltechnologie Magdeburg e. V. (PPM) for large scale extraction and analysis. The harvest, which yielded approximately 95kg of bio-material was carried out by a team comprising Natalia Carreno-Quintero, Amanda Kozlo, Mark Levy, and Chris Gerrish, all of RHUL, and Yaw Koram from NSC.

The harvest was carefully sorted by type, and further sorted into leaves, flowers and woody stems.  These were weighed, packaged and sent to PPM for further analysis by using a scaled-up biorefinery platform. Extracts from the biomass will be analysed and valuable compounds quantified.  Potential compounds include Solanesol, Squalene, Astaxanthin, fatty acids and hydrocarbons such as Hentriacontane.

The transgenic N. glauca plant line has been genetically engineered for enhanced production of ketocarotenoids. These ketocarotenoids, such as Astaxanthin and its intermediates, which have high commercial value, are normally not present in plants.  In addition to these, it also has similar levels of fatty acids and hydrocarbons as the naturally occurring (wild-type) species.  

The transgenic line will be compared to the wild-type in order to determine whether genetic engineering could add value to N. glauca in the process of biomass extraction.