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 Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>