Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop

Date:
March 19, 2012
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
The first high-resolution, comprehensive genetic map of a promising energy crop called miscanthus has been completed.

Miscanthus being grown for biofuel.
Credit: steheap / Fotolia

Researchers in Wales and the United States have collaborated to complete the first high-resolution, comprehensive genetic map of a promising energy crop called miscanthus.

Related Articles


The results -- published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS One -- provide a significant breakthrough towards advancing the production of bioenergy.

The breakthrough results from the long-term collaboration between energy crop company Ceres, Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, California, USA, and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University in Wales. The IBERS team created the collection of genetically related plants and Ceres then sequenced and analyzed the DNA. In other crops, this type of comprehensive genetic mapping has significantly shortened product development timelines.

As published in the journal article, Ceres researchers mapped all 19 chromosomes of miscanthus, a towering cane-like grass that can be used as a feedstock for advanced biofuels, bio-products and biopower. The multi-year project involved generation and analysis of more than 400 million DNA sequences creating a blueprint of the genetic alphabet of the plant.

Among the massive volumes of data, researchers found 20,000 genetic differences, called markers, that allow geneticists to differentiate individual plants based on small variations in their DNA. More than 3,500 of these markers were used to create the genetic map, and are valuable for crop improvement purposes. In contrast, previously announced mapping projects discovered only about 600 markers and did not fully characterize the structure of all the miscanthus chromosomes, a necessary step in establishing a high-tech plant breeding program.

Ceres Chief Scientific Officer Richard Flavell, PhD, FRS, CBE says that the rapid improvements in breeding made possible by this mapping project are needed for miscanthus to be more widely used as an energy crop. While it has been grown on a small scale across Europe for two decades, primarily for electricity generation, large-scale commercial production is not economically viable at this time due to high production costs and few commercially available miscanthus cultivars.

"By defining the genetic diversity in our germplasm collections with the new DNA markers, we can more rapidly introduce important crop traits into our new, seed-propagated miscanthus products," said Flavell. He explained that unlike the most popular current miscanthus that is vegetatively propagated, Ceres' seeded types are expected to require significantly less time, effort and money to be bred for different environments and to be established by growers. Ceres is currently evaluating its improved seeded miscanthus varieties in multiple locations.

Iain Donnison, PhD, head of the bioenergy team at IBERS, notes that, in addition to its use in developing new products, the mapping project has provided greater insight into how the miscanthus genome compares to other well-understood crop plants. Previously, most miscanthus research had been focused on field trials, and little was known about its genetics.

"The joint miscanthus development programme with Ceres has provided new insight into the evolution of the species as well as the similarities and differences in populations across different countries and environments," said Donnison. "This rich library of information took decades to produce in other crops, but with modern biology and genomics technology Ceres and IBERS have put together what I believe is one of the world's most comprehensive marker-based breeding programs in miscanthus."

The collaborative research received funding as part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC). This innovative academic-industry research partnership underpins development in the important and emerging bioenergy sector. Both Ceres and IBERS are contributing members of BSBEC.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, noted: "This partnership between academia and industry makes a significant contribution towards achieving sustainable feed-stocks for renewable energy and other bio derived products. A genetic map paves the way toward breeding improvements to increase the amount of sunlight captured, the amount of carbon that can be assimilated over a growing season and the partitioning of the carbon in harvested biomass. This research is an important step towards improving yields for bio feed-stocks without increasing inputs."

"The collaboration between IBERS and Ceres is a great example of how industry and academia can work together to increase the commercial potential of the UK's research resources, both at home and internationally," said Kell.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xue-Feng Ma, Elaine Jensen, Nickolai Alexandrov, Maxim Troukhan, Liping Zhang, Sian Thomas-Jones, Kerrie Farrar, John Clifton-Brown, Iain Donnison, Timothy Swaller, Richard Flavell. High Resolution Genetic Mapping by Genome Sequencing Reveals Genome Duplication and Tetraploid Genetic Structure of the Diploid Miscanthus sinensis. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e33821 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033821

Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120319095013.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2012, March 19). First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120319095013.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120319095013.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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