Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Draft "Genetic Road Map" of Biofuels Crop

27.01.2011
The first rough draft of a “genetic road map” of a biomass crop, prairie cordgrass, is giving scientists an inside look at the genes of one of the crops that may help produce the next generation of biofuels.

The study already has produced the “transcriptome” of the species, said plant geneticist Jose Gonzalez of South Dakota State University. He said the transcriptome can be used somewhat like a map — it records the genes the plant uses to reach certain goals.

A transcriptome is the small portion of the DNA of an organism that is transcribed into molecules of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. When DNA is transcribed into what is called “messenger RNA,” it enables the organism to carry out instructions about building and maintaining cells. Scientists can decode those instructions to determine what particular DNA sequences do.

In an article in the September 2010 issue of The Plant Genome, Gonzalez and his colleagues discussed one of the first studies of the prairie cordgrass transcriptome. Prairie cordgrass is being viewed as a species suitable for producing biomass to make biofuels. One of the reasons scientists are interested in prairie cordgrass is because it yields extraordinarily well while tolerating wet conditions, high salinity or poorly aerated soils in low areas unsuitable for growing conventional crops. But it can also survive in open arid prairies.

Gonzalez said one obvious benefit from studying the transcriptome of a plant such as prairie cordgrass is to enable plant breeders to use marker-assisted selection in order to deliberately include gene sequences that confer desirable traits.

In the study, scientists used four tissues of prairie cordgrass to produce 556,198 expressed sequence tags, or portions of expressed genes. They assembled these into 26,302 “contigs,” or overlapping DNA segments from the same gene.

“We calculated probably 40 percent of the genes in prairie cordgrass, or more than 20,000,” Gonzalez said. “We’re starting to be able to look at the genes involved in particular traits. For example, for biofuels, for cellulosic ethanol production, cell wall composition is very important. We can actually look at the genes that are related to that cell wall composition so that we can study the variations of those genes. It can help the breeders eventually to select populations of prairie cordgrass with better composition.”

Gonzalez said cell walls — primarily made up of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin — are largely what remains when prairie cordgrass or some other biomass grass has been harvested and allowed to dry.

Cellulose and hemicellulose are carbohydrates that can be transformed into simple sugars that can be fermented. Lignin can’t be broken down by fermentation, though it can be isolated by other treatments.

The genes involved in the lignin biosynthesis pathway have been very well studied in other grasses, and the genes across the grasses are very similar. That will be one area of ongoing research for Gonzalez and his colleagues.

The synthesis of cellulose or hemicellulose is much more complex and involves many more enzymes. That is also an area of further research for the group, though those pathways will take longer to unravel, he said.

Scientists are also interested in the morphological development of the plant because that’s what supports the yield of the plant through many seasons — how the plant develops underground and starts growing at beginning of the season, how it goes into dormancy in fall, how it reactivates itself next season.

That is why current research efforts to decipher the plant’s genetic information are so important, Gonzalez said.

The research is funded in part by a federal grant of $420,000. The grant is from a joint program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy to promote biofuels research.

Gonzalez’ co-authors in the study were Kristene Gedye, Arvid Boe and Vance Owens of the Department of Plant Science at SDSU; Yuguang Ban and Xijin Ge of SDSU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Jyothi Thimmapuram, Fengjie Sun, and Chris Wright of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Shahjahan Ali of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Lance Nixon | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sdstate.edu

Further reports about: Biofuels Cellulose DNA DNA segments DNA sequence RNA Science TV crop hemicellulose prairie cordgrass

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto

nachricht Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs
19.05.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>