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Genomic Science Program

2010 Awardee

Functional Analysis of Regulatory Networks Linking Shoot Maturation, Stem Carbon Partitioning, and Nutrient Utilization in Sorghum

INVESTIGATORS: Moose, S. P.; Brown, P. J.; Moehs, M.

INSTITUTION: University of Illinois

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Important plant traits to improve biomass yields and conversion to bioenergy include growth habit, sensitivity to day length, flowering time, carbon partitioning, and nutrient use efficiency. Increased expression of one key shoot maturation gene in maize, the Glossy15 gene, delays flowering and reduces grain yields, but also leads to greater accumulation of total biomass and stalk sugars relative to current commercial corn grain hybrids. Furthermore, the nitrogen requirements to maximize total biomass are much less for the hybrids with higher Glossy15 expression. These features of Glossy15 overexpression are analogous to traits important to Sorghum cultivars adapted for production of stalk sugars, or lignocellulosic biomass. The specific goal of this project is to determine if changes in the Glossy15 gene system of Sorghum might contribute to current physiological differences among grain, sweet and biomass Sorghums, and whether the Sorghum Glossy15 gene can be used to convert superior Sorghum grain hybrids to cultivars enhanced for bioenergy production.

OBJECTIVES: 1) to characterize the DNA sequences and expression of genes regulating shoot maturation in Sorghum; 2) to investigate the contribution of natural variation in shoot maturation pathway genes to traits that distinguish sweet, forage and grain sorghum cultivars; and 3) build upon proof-of-concept studies in maize by modifying Glossy15 activity in grain sorghum cultivars and evaluation of biomass and fermentable carbon yields with low N fertilizer inputs.

APPROACH: Because of the close relationship between maize and sorghum, it is possible that interactions between maize AP2 domain transcription factor and miR172 genes also help program differences in shoot maturation which distinguish grain, sweet and biomass Sorghum cultivars.  We will use comparative genomics, targeted resequencing, RNA expression analysis and association mapping to further characterize miR172 and AP2 genes present within the Sorghum genome sequence and among a set of core Sorghum lines to assess changes in shoot maturation.  Finally, we will directly test whether altering the expression of the Sorghum ortholog of the maize Glossy15 gene can modulate shoot maturation in transgenic Sorghum plants. Collectively, our results may lead to improved sorghum cultivars optimized for sustainable, low-cost production of biomass for lignocellulosic processing.

Name: Moose, S. P.
Phone: 217-244-6308
Fax: 217-333-4582



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