Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First wild grass species and model system for energy crops sequenced

Date:
February 10, 2010
Source:
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Summary:
As the US Department of Energy works toward developing sustainable sources of clean renewable energy, perennial grasses have emerged as major candidates for the commercial production of cellulosic biofuels from feedstocks. However, little is known about the specific biological traits of the grasses that might contribute to their usefulness for energy production, in part because such grasses typically have long lifecycles and possess large, complex genomes, making them difficult to study.

Brachypodium completes the set of strategically sequenced major grass genomes from the three most economically important subfamilies of grasses.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Joint Genome Institute

As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) works toward developing sustainable sources of clean renewable energy, perennial grasses have emerged as major candidates for the commercial production of cellulosic biofuels from feedstocks. However, little is known about the specific biological traits of the grasses that might contribute to their usefulness for energy production, in part because such grasses typically have long lifecycles and possess large, complex genomes, making them difficult to study.

Representative genomes for two of the three major subfamilies of grasses ⎯ those that include rice, maize, sorghum and sugar cane⎯ have already been sequenced. Now in the February 11 edition of the journal Nature, the International Brachypodium Initiative, a consortium which includes researchers from the DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), presents the complete sequence of the wild grass Brachypodium distachyon. B. distachyon has many features in common with grasses, making it an ideal tool for developing grasses specifically tailored for biomass and biofuel production.

As the first wild grass species to be sequenced, Brachypodium completes a strategic triad of sequenced major grass genomes, from the three most economically important subfamilies of grasses, enabling researchers to compare complete genomes across these three grass subfamilies for the first time. With its 272 million-nucleotide genome now available to the public, the tiny grass affectionately known to its devoted research community as "Brachy" also serves as a genomic navigation system for rapidly tracking down traits of agronomic interest within the much larger wheat and barley genomes (16 billion and five billion nucleotides, respectively).

"The sequencing and analysis of the Brachypodium genome is an important advance toward securing sustainable supplies of food, feed and fuel from new generations of grass crops," said DOE JGI collaborator John Vogel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS). "Since Brachypodium has the traits required to serve as a functional model system -- small size, short lifecycle, self fertility, simple growth requirements, small genome and can be efficiently transformed or genetically altered -- it can be used to more rapidly gain the knowledge about basic grass biology necessary to develop superior grass crops. This is especially important in the context of developing grasses as biofuel crops because the crops themselves (e.g. switchgrass and Miscanthus) are difficult experimental subjects due to their large size, long lifecycle and complex genetics."

The publication describes how manual annotation of the Brachy genome revealed the structure and possible function of nearly 2,800 of its more than 25,500 predicted genes. This effort, led by Vogel, Jeremy Schmutz and Dan Rokhsar of the DOE JGI, David Garvin of the USDA-ARS and University of Minnesota, Todd Mockler of Oregon State University and Michael Bevan of the John Innes Centre, UK, also compared Brachypodium, sorghum, and rice to determine their evolutionary relationships. The genome analysis was conducted by an international collaboration that also involved the Helmholz-Zentrum in Munich, Germany, INRA in Clermont Ferrand, France, the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and the University of Helsinki, Finland.

"The overall similarity in gene content and gene family structure between Brachypodium, sorghum, and rice supports the value of Brachy as a functional genomics model for all grasses, including those being developed as biomass crops," said Jeremy Schmutz, a DOE JGI scientist at the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology in Alabama. Its genetic code promises broad applicability because the subfamily Pooideae, of which Brachypodium is a member, includes most cool season cereal, forage and turf grasses, and with over 3,000 species is the largest grass subfamily.

One of the study's senior authors, Dan Rokhsar, head of DOE JGI's Computational Genomics group, added that the wild grass's genome is also useful for studying the changes wrought by the domestication of other grasses to produce varieties better suited to human needs. Studying Brachypodium's genome, he said, could provide insight into the origin of genetic traits and pre-existing variations.

Other authors on the study include DOE JGI's Kerrie Barry, Susan Lucas, Miranda Harmon-Smith, Kathleen Lail, Hope Tice, Erika Lindquist and Mei Wang. For more information about the institutions participating in the International Brachypodium Initiative, go to http://www.brachypodium.org/.

A video of Vogel discussing the Brachypodium genome project can be viewed at the DOE JGI's SciVee channel: http://www.scivee.tv/user/7476.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Joint Genome Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Joint Genome Institute. "First wild grass species and model system for energy crops sequenced." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210131950.htm>.
DOE/Joint Genome Institute. (2010, February 10). First wild grass species and model system for energy crops sequenced. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210131950.htm
DOE/Joint Genome Institute. "First wild grass species and model system for energy crops sequenced." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210131950.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins