Genetic Engineering and Improvement

A basis for genetic engineering and Improvement

* Principal Investigators:Jack Widholm, Jack Juvik, Vera Lozovaya

Miscanthus x giganteusis a sterile hybrid. This insures that a highly productive plant does not become invasive. But there is no genetic diversity over large areas and the crop is totally unimproved. A germplasm collection of the parent species has been developed and is being used as the basis to breed and select new hybrids. This will provide a large and diverse germplasm collection of Miscanthus parent lines characterized by molecular methods, breeding capability, genetic diversity in the crop, new higher yielding and adapted lines, improved low temperature tolerance and fall senescence characteristics.

Our group goal is to establish a biochemical basis for the genetic improvement of Miscanthus biomass yields and composition via conventional breeding and genetic engineering. We plan to identify genes that will repress and modify cell wall phenolics and enhance the proportion of complex carbohydrates in Miscanthus cell wall thus allowing formation of biomass with improved properties more suitable for liquid biofuel production without impairing growth, disease and lodging resistance.