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Plant biologists lead biobased-fuel research projects
Date:9/14/2010

ROCKVILLE, Md. Members of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) are helping solve the nation's energy challenges through fundamental research into biofuels. All nine Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy awards recently announced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were given to projects with ASPB members as key research personnel, including serving as principal investigator.

This DOE/USDA research program supports fundamental genomics investigations to enhance the use of plants as potential sources of fuels. Each of the projects will explore ways that the generally inedible portions of plantsthe lignocellulosic biomasscan be used to produce biofuels. Projects funded this year will aim to enhance productivity, yield, nutrient and water utilization, and sustainability of plants as sources of biofuels. To meet these goals, researchers will seek to improve basic understanding of the way plants are structured, how they take up and use nutrients, and the impact of temperature and water.

A total of $8.9 million has been awarded to nine research teams:

  • ASPB member Pamela J. Green (University of Delaware) will identify the targets of a set of regulatory molecules known as microRNAs to enhance understanding of regulatory networks, which may suggest strategies for improving bioenergy crops.
  • Scott Harding and ASPB member ChungJui Tsai (University of Georgia) will explore how proteins which transport the sugar sucrose within plants impact the storage and use of sucrose in developing wood.
  • ASPB members Matthew Hudson, Magdy Alabady, and Stephen Moose (Energy Bioscience Institute, University of Illinois) will investigate the role of small RNA molecules involved in regulating the size, shape, and composition of biofuel crops and the synthesis of cellulose and lignin in biofuels crops including Miscanthus, switchgrass, and prairie cordgrass.
  • ASPB members Chuansheng Mei
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Contact: Adam Fagen
afagen@aspb.org
301-296-0898
American Society of Plant Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

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