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Soybean genome analysis reveals pathways for improving biodiesel
Date:1/16/2010

clude the black cottonwood (poplar) tree and the grain sorghum, both targeted because of their promise as biomass feedstocks for biofuels production.

"This is a milestone for soybean research and promises to usher in a new era in soybean agronomic improvement," said co-author Gary Stacey, Director, Center for Sustainable Energy and Associate Director and National Center for Soybean Biotechnology, University of Missouri. "The genome provides a parts list of what it takes to make a soybean plant and, more importantly, helps to identify those genes that are essential for such important agronomic traits as protein and oil content."

From the sequence analysis, Stacey said that he and his colleagues have identified more than 46,000 genes of which 1,110 are involved in lipid metabolism. "These genes and their associated pathways are the building blocks for soybean oil content and represent targets that can be modified to bolster output and lead to the increase of the use of soybean oil for biodiesel production."

While biodiesel from soybean oil represents a cleaner, renewable alternative to fossil fuels with desirable properties as a liquid transportation fuel, there simply is not enough oil produced by the plant to be a competitive gasoline on a gallons-of-fuel yield per acre. The availability of the soybean genome may provide some key solutions. "We can now zero in on the control points governing carbon flow towards protein and oil," said Tom Clemente, Professor, Center for Biotechnology, Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "With the combination of informatics, biochemistry and genetics we can target the development of a soybean with greater than 40 percent oil content."

The availability of the soybean genome sequence has accelerated other soybean trait discovery efforts as well. For example, researchers have used the sequence to zero in on a mutation that can be used to select for a line that h
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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