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Crop Biotech Update

Transcription Factor Genes Increase Biomass Production in Switchgrass

August 1, 2018

Increasing crop yield requires the coordination of multiple metabolic pathways including photosynthetic carbon fixation, and targeted carbon deposition. The research team of Madana M.R. Ambavaram from Yield10 Bioscience Incorporated in the USA search for transcription factor genes that could play a role in increasing carbon flow through pathways to increase biomass yield in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).

Two novel switchgrass transcription factor genes, PvBMY1 (BioMass Yield 1) and PvBMY3 (BioMass Yield 3), with predicted roles in the regulation of photosynthesis and related metabolism, were identified. These genes were then overexpressed in switchgrass to determine their effect on biomass yield.

A significant increase of as high as 160% was observed in both aboveground and root biomass in the transgenic plants compared to wild-type control during the greenhouse experiment. Transgenic lines with elevated electron transport rate of photosystems I and II as well as increased levels of starch and soluble sugars were also identified.

This study reveals that PvBMY1 and PvBMY3 are capable of significantly increasing biomass in switchgrass. These genes possess huge potentials for use in developing high biomass switchgrass for biofuel production.

For more information, read the article in Plant Science.