The primary aims of this project seek to improve the efficiency of biomass utilization through improved crop genetics. To accomplish this, the project is building on existing knowledge of cell wall biosynthesis to create modified lines of a high-yielding energy crop Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) through transgenesis that are more easily broken down to ethanol. To increase fundamental understanding of grass cell wall biosynthesis, a molecular genetic approach for identifying genes that alter cell wall composition which utilizes the model Brachypodium distachyon has been adopted.
Ongoing projects in these areas include:
Alteration of the activity of key lignin biosynthetic enzymes.
Linking transgenes to male sterility.
Identifying novel genes affecting cell wall composition.