The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is by far the most developed plant system, but it doesn’t allow researchers to address questions about biological features unique to the grasses. For example, the cell walls of these grasses differ significantly in cell wall composition from other plants. Currently, several grasses are in various stages of development as energy crops including switchgrass, Miscanthus, and sorghum. However, directly working with cultivated species, though ideal, is challenging due to factors such as large genome and physical sizes and long life cycles. One of the seven DOE JGI Flagship Plant Genome species, Brachypodium distachyon, serves as a model for potential energy crops such as switchgrass, sorghum, and Miscanthus, as well as for the cereal crops that constitute a large part of the world’s diet. This tiny grass is a good model for systems analysis of an energy crop. By synthesizing the open reading frames (ORFs) that encode the grass’ transcription factors, researchers hope to increase the available information on candidate protein coding regions in a DNA sequence, data that could be harnessed to improve plant feedstocks.
Proposer’s Name: Samuel Hazen