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Genomic Science Program

2013 Awardee

Unraveling the genetics of two key biomass traits that differentiate upland and lowland tetraploid switchgrass ecotypes, colonization by mycorrhizal fungi and frost tolerance

INVESTIGATORS: Devos KM, Bennetzen JL, Lindstrom OM, Missaoui AM, Schliekelman P

INSTITUTIONS: University of Georgia, Athens

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Switchgrass, a bioenergy crop, is native to the U.S. and can be grown over a wide geographical range.  Lowland switchgrass is adapted to the southern part of the U.S. and upland switchgrass is adapted to the northern part.  While lowland switchgrass produces higher biomass yields than upland switchgrass when both are grown in their areas of adaptation, this yield advantage is lost when lowland switchgrass is cultivated at more northern latitudes due to high rates of winter kill.  The overall aim of the project is to develop strategies for the cryoprotection of lowland switchgrass through (1) the identification of the genetic pathway(s) that provide frost-tolerance in upland switchgrass and (2) studying the potential of a beneficial class of fungi, the mycorrhizae, to minimize host cold stress. 

OBJECTIVES: 1. To identify regions of the switchgrass genome that carry genes that enhance mycorrizhal interactions, freezing tolerance and biomass production; 2. To conduct a large-scale gene expression analysis in upland and lowland switchgrass, and genetically map expression differences associated with mycorrhizal symbiosis and cold-acclimatization.

APPROACH: A mapping population that segregates for morphological and physiological differences between upland and lowland switchgrass will be genetically mapped and phenotyped for frost-tolerance, colonization by mycorrhizal fungi and biomass yield to identify regions of the genome that control these traits.  In addition, expression levels of the entire gene complement will be measured in each of the mapping progeny using RNA-Seq.  Co-localization of phenotypic quantitative trait loci (QTL) and expression QTL will provide candidate genes for the traits of interest that can be exploited to enhance biomass production under cold stress. 

PROJECT CONTACT:
Name: Devos KM
Phone:706-542-0925
Fax: 706-542-0914
Email: kdevos@uga.edu

 

Featuring

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy Abstracts [9/16]


Basic Research Opportunities in Genomic Science to Advance the Production of Biofuels and Bioproducts from Plant Biomass White Paper [6/15]


Lignocellulosic Biomass for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts: Workshop Report [2/15]


Sustainable Bioenergy [05/14]


USDA/DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy Program: Project Director / Principal Investigator Meeting [01/14]


Switchgrass Research Group: Progress Report [1/12]


Research

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