The availability of the Physcomitrella genome is expected to create important new opportunities for understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in plant cell wall synthesis and assembly, said Chris Somerville, Director of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), the partnership between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the global energy company BP. The ease with which genes can be experimentally modified in Physcomitrella will facilitate a wide range of studies of the cell wall, the principal component of terrestrial biomass. Additionally, the moss has fewer cell types than higher plants and has a much more rapid lifecycle, which also greatly facilitates experimental studies of cell walls. Thus, the completion of the genome is an important step forward in facilitating basic research concerning the development of cellulosic biofuels.
There is a clear connection with this work and the intensifying interest in the global carbon cycle, said Mishler, a U.C Berkeley Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria. The moss system is proving quite useful for studies of photosynthesis among many other processes.
One of these, said Quatrano, who is Chairman of the Department of Biology at WUSTL, is the ability of mosses to withstand drought and in some cases complete desiccation, which will provide us with a model experimental system to identify genes and gene networks that might be involved and related to seed desiccation in flowering plants.
Mishler said that Physcomitrella is well placed phylogenetically to fill in the large gap between the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas, also sequenced by DOE JGI, and the flowering plants.
|Contact: David Gilbert|
DOE/Joint Genome Institute