Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

USDA scientists sequence genome of grass that can be a biofuel model crop

11.02.2010
Work will enable researchers to shed light on the genetics behind hardier varieties of wheat and improved varieties of biofuel crops

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their colleagues at the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute today announced that they have completed sequencing the genome of a kind of wild grass that will enable researchers to shed light on the genetics behind hardier varieties of wheat and improved varieties of biofuel crops. The research is published today in the journal Nature.

"Energy security looms as one of the most important scientific challenges of this century," said Molly Jahn, USDA Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "This important research will help scientists develop switchgrass varieties that are more suitable for bioenergy production by identifying the genetic basis for traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance and the composition of cells."

The grass, Brachypodium distachyon, can be used by plant scientists the way other researchers use lab mice to study human disease – as a model organism that is similar to but easier to grow and study than important agricultural crops, including wheat and barley. The research also supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy; the brachypodium genome is similar to that of the potential bioenergy crop switchgrass. But the smaller genome of brachypodium makes it easier to find genes linked to specific traits, such as stem size and disease resistance.

Brachypodium (pronounced bracky-POE-dee-umm) also is easier to grow than many grasses, takes up less laboratory space, and offers easy transformation, which means scientists can insert foreign DNA into it to study gene function and targeted approaches for crop improvement in the transformed plants, said John Vogel, a lead author and molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. Vogel works at the ARS Genomics and Gene Discovery Research Unit in Albany, Calif. ARS geneticist David Garvin at the agency's Plant Science Research Unit in St. Paul, Minn., is also a lead author on the paper.

A major stumbling block in using switchgrass or any perennial grass as a biofuel crop is the difficulty in breaking down its cell walls, an essential step in producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass. Brachypodium may hold the key to finding ways to produce plant cell walls that are easy to break down, Vogel said.

Vogel developed a method with a very high success rate for inserting genes into brachypodium. He, Garvin and their colleagues are spearheading efforts to promote brachypodium as an experimental model. They shared brachypodium seeds with more than 300 labs in 25 countries and gave scientists worldwide free access to a draft sequence of the brachypodium genome long before the work was formally published. The sequencing project was carried out through the DOE-JGI Community Sequencing Program.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Dennis O’Brien | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usda.gov

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>