Development of Hybrid Switchgrass for Biofuel Production

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The IBSS Crop Development team at The University of Tennessee seeks to develop high-yielding, locally adapted switchgrass germplasm with reduced cell wall recalcitrance for biofuel production. Lignin, the primary cause of recalcitrance, creates unfavorable by-products during biofuel conversion. Genes for improved cell wall characteristics must be introduced into higher yielding genetic backgrounds to deploy those genes to growers for biomass production.  

Transgenic switchgrass plants with COMT downregulation show reduced lignin, altered lignin composition, and increased sugar release during biochemical conversion.  Hybridization of downregulated-COMT transgenic switchgrass lines with Tennessee-grown field selections is expected to provide high-yielding germplasm with reduced cell wall recalcitrance.  Hybrid production based on transgenic switchgrass plants with COMT downregulation and a field-selected parent would provide seed to deploy improved germplasm to a biomass-based biofuels industry in the Southeast. 


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1. Alexander Fact Sheet.pdf — PDF document, 2798Kb

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