Researchers at the University of Tennessee have identified switchgrass genes that increase biomass yield and cellulose content in switchgrass and have potential to increase biomass yield and cellulose content in other monocot species such as corn, rice and barley. When the sequence of the derived amino acids were compared with other plant homolog genes, the cluster analysis showed that the genes were clustered into three groups, and each switchgrass gene is clustered with its homolog from other monocot species such as rice, maize, and barley, with a high percentage of amino acid identity (up to 98%). Transient expression analysis of the switchgrass gene for subcellular localization using a fluorescent protein marker showed that the protein was localized to the plant plasma membrane. Transgenic switchgrass plants overexpressing the switchgrass gene were produced and the plants looked phenotypically normal and showed an increase in the plant height, number of tillers, and dry biomass weight.
Overexpression of the foxtail milled (Setaria italica L.) pectin acetylesterase 1 (SiPAE1) gene in rice resulted in increased growth and biomass yirld and improved ethanol yirld from 18-56% in diverse over-expression lines compared to wild type and vector control lines.
The invention provides coding and promoter sequences for a VS-1 and AP-2 gene, which affects the developmental process of senescence in plants. Vectors, transgenic plants, seeds, and host cells comprising heterologous VS-1 and AP-2 genes are also provided. Additionally provided are methods of altering nutrient allocation and composition in a plant using the VS-1 and AP-2 genes.
The invention provides methods for modifying lignin, cellulose, xylan, and hemicellulose content in plants, and for achieving ectopic lignification and, for instance, secondary cell wall synthesis in pith cells, by altered regulation of a WRKY transcription factor. Nucleic acid constructs for altered WRKY-TF expression are described. Transgenic plants are provided that comprise modified pith cell walls, and lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose content. Plants described herein may be used, for example, as improved biofuel feedstock and as highly digestible forage crops.
The invention provides isolated fungal endophytes and synthetic combinations thereof with host grass plants. Methods for inoculating grass plant with the endophytes, for propagating the grass-endophyte combinations, and for producing feeds and biofuels from grass-endophyte combinations are also provided.
The invention provides methods for modifying lignin content and composition in plants and achieving associated benefits therefrom involving altered expression of newly discovered MYB4 transcription factors. Nucleic acid constructs for modifying MYB4 transcription factor expression are described. By over-expressing the identified MYB4 transcription factors, for example, an accompanying decrease in lignin content may be achieved. Plants are provided by the invention comprising such modifications, as are methods for their preparation and use.
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