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Crop Biotech Update

New Gene Discovery to Enhance Quality of Cereal and Bioenergy Crops

October 15, 2014

A team of scientists from Donald Danforth Plant Science Center led by Thomas Brutnell, has developed a new way of identifying genes that are important for photosynthesis in maize and rice. Their research will help identify candidate genes for crop improvement, and revealed new pathways and information about how plants fix carbon.

This research also made public a mathematical model that allows access to datasets comparing C4 photosynthesis traits in plants like maize to C3 photosynthesis in plants like rice. C4 crops such as maize, are able to withstand drought, heat, nitrogen and carbon dioxide limitations better than C3 crops, such as rice, due to their ability to efficiently make use of carbon dioxide and water that make carbohydrates and cell wall polysaccharides; the sugars that are important to producing next-generation biofuels.

"Our research focuses on understanding complex network interactions in grasses with a goal of engineering C4 traits into C3 grasses which can be translated into crops that impact the supply of food and fuel," said Brutnell. He also said that the technologies developed by his team can be used to identify control points for other processes, including nitrogen and phosphate efficiency as well as a plant's response to environmental stresses like heat and drought.

For more information, read the news release at: