U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Identification of a Lignocellulosic Biosynthesis Gene in Switchgrass
Published: January 04, 2010
Posted: January 13, 2010

Biofuels produced from plant lignocellulosic biomass offer a promising alternative to starch-based (e.g., corn) biofuels. However, the lignin component of plant cell walls makes plants difficult to breakdown and convert to biofuels. Researchers at the Oak Ridge BioEnergy Research Center (BESC) have identified a gene putatively encoding an enzyme involved in lignin biosynthesis in switchgrass, a major perennial feedstock for lignocellulosic ethanol production. Their results provide a potential target for modification in the development of switchgrass as a bioenergy crop. Modifying plant lignin content may adversely affect plant growth; however, since this newly discovered gene catalyzes a step late in the lignin biosynthetic pathway its modification may have less of an effect on overall plant structure. Reduced expression of this gene has been shown to reduce lignin levels in several non-grass plant species but until now little was known about its effects in bioenergy-relevant grasses. This research was carried out by BESC scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their collaborators at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the University of Georgia.

Reference: Escamilla-Trevino, L. L., et al. 2009. "Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) Possesses a Divergent Family of Cinnamoyl CoA Reductases with Distinct Biochemical Properties," New Phytologist 185(1), 143-155.

Contact: Cathy Ronning, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)