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.

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