Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New tool for improving switchgrass

Date:
July 29, 2010
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Scientists have developed a new tool for deciphering the genetics of a native prairie grass being widely studied for its potential as a biofuel. The genetic map of switchgrass is expected to speed up the search for genes that will make the perennial plant a more viable source of bioenergy.

ARS molecular biologist Christian Tobias and his colleagues have published the genetic map for switchgrass, a tool that may speed up development of this native perennial prairie grass as a source of biofuel.
Credit: Peggy Greb

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have developed a new tool for deciphering the genetics of a native prairie grass being widely studied for its potential as a biofuel. The genetic map of switchgrass, published by Christian Tobias, a molecular biologist at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., and his colleagues, is expected to speed up the search for genes that will make the perennial plant a more viable source of bioenergy.

Switchgrass is now grown as a cattle feed and to restore depleted soils. But interest in using it as a biofuel has intensified in recent years because it can be burned to produce electricity and, like corn stalks, can be converted to ethanol. It also grows on marginal lands, is adaptable to different regions, and -- as a perennial -- does not need to be replanted each year, which means lower energy costs and less runoff.

To assemble the genetic map, the team crossed a commercial variety of switchgrass known as Kanlow with an ARS-developed variety known as Alamo to produce 238 plants. They extracted DNA from that population and assembled a map based on more than 1,000 genetic markers that could each be attributed to one parent or the other.

The map divides the switchgrass genome into 18 distinct groups of genes linked together on the same strand of DNA. The results were recently published in the journal Genetics.

The work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as part of the joint USDA-DOE Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy Program.

Understanding the genetic composition of switchgrass could produce big rewards. To make switchgrass more commercially viable as a biofuel, scientists are searching for ways to increase yields and make it easier to break down the plant cell walls, an essential step in producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass.

The genetic map could lead to genes associated with cell wall composition, crop yields and other useful traits. Scientists will be able to use the genetic map to compare the genetic profile of switchgrass to that of rice, sorghum and other plants with better understood genomes and find analogues to genes linked to specific traits in those crops.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Dennis O'Brien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Okada et al. Complete Switchgrass Genetic Maps Reveal Subgenome Collinearity, Preferential Pairing and Multilocus Interactions. Genetics, 2010; 185 (3): 745 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.110.113910

Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "New tool for improving switchgrass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727151819.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2010, July 29). New tool for improving switchgrass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727151819.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "New tool for improving switchgrass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727151819.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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