Green Chemistry by New Plant Enzyme. Plant enzyme’s new function discovered by scientists researching on plant enzymes might lead to Green Chemistry.
A new function in a plant enzyme has been discovered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers. For the design of new chemical catalysts, this function could have implications. The enzyme initiates or catalyzes, one of the cornerstone chemical reactions needed to produce a variety of organic molecules, including the ones used as raw materials for making plastics and the ones found in cosmetics, lubricants, etc. A variety of organic molecules can be synthesized using fatty acid, so the plant enzyme’s discovery is capable of inspiring the development of new “greener” catalysts used in industries.
In the course of the team’s ongoing research into enzymes that desaturate plant oils, they made this discovery. In a hydrocarbon chain, the hydrogen atoms are stripped off from specific adjacent carbon atoms and a double bond is inserted between those carbon atoms, by these desaturase enzymes. Previously, Shanklin’s team had created a triple mutant version of a desaturase enzyme having interesting properties, and the team had studied three mutations separately to find what each one did.