Biotech Updates

Experts Tweak Sugarcane Leaf Angle for Biomass Boost

June 13, 2024

Photo Source: Charles Keato | CABBI

Researchers from the University of Florida's Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) made genetic tweaks to sugarcane that led to improved yield. The results of this breakthrough are reported in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Sugarcane is the largest crop by biomass yield globally, providing 80% of the world's sugar and 40% of the biofuel produced worldwide. The plant size and water use efficiency of sugarcane make it one of the best candidates for developing advanced, renewable, value-added bioproducts and biofuels. However, sugarcane has a complex genome that makes it hard for breeders to improve its traits using conventional methods. Thus, the research team used gene editing tools to fine-tune the sugarcane genome, particularly the genes involved in controlling the leaf angle. This trait is vital because it determines how much light can be captured by the plant, which is critical for biomass production.

Field trials of the edited sugarcanes showed that one sugarcane line showed a 56% reduction in leaf inclination angle, leading to an 18% boost in dry biomass yield. This modification achieved biomass improvement without the need to add more fertilizers to the fields.

Read the article from CABBI.

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