Brachypodium and bio fuels

A little herb called Brachypodium would be of great help in bio-fuel research

Brachypodium disachyon, a small purple herb from temperate regions is advancing bioenergy research. John Vogel and Yong Gu, two researchers from the Agronomic Research Service (ARS) of the Albania Research Laboratory in California, will accelerate bioenergy research thanks to the successful genetic transformation of Brachypodium disachyon, a grass, direct cousin Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) generally studied for the production of bioethanol.

Researchers are the first to successfully introduce a gene into the Brachypodium disachyon genome using the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Already in 2002, David Garvin - a plant geneticist from ARS - was the first to take an interest in this plant. This geneticist had deciphered its entire genome and made it a model study plant, due to its small genome (~ 300Mbp), for the production of fuel. This study enabled Professor Yong Gu and his team to recently develop the genetic map of Brachypodium disachyon, a first for this plant. This genetic map makes it possible to precisely locate each gene in the plant. Many plant genetics laboratories located in more than 20 different countries are now working with this plant.

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This new method of genetic transformation makes it possible to determine the functions of each gene in the plant more precisely than the usual methods. For this, scientists have succeeded, thanks to the introduction of genes from the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, inactivating the functions of certain genes in the plant in order to better determine other lesser known genetic functions.

This genetic breakthrough makes Brachypodium disachyon the most interesting plant for global research on plant genetics for biofuel production.

source: BE USA

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