Selected for the DOE JGI 2007 Community Sequencing Program because of traits such as high yield, perennial growth and low nutrient requirements, switchgrass is a promising candidate bioenergy crop that could be used to develop cellulosic biofuels. One of the challenges with sequencing switchgrass is the fact that it is a polyploid, containing multiple, full copies of its genome.
|Switchgrass is a candidate bioenergy feedstock.|
To assist with genome assembly and begin conducting comparative genomic analyses involving switchgrass and the genomes of related grasses, a team of researchers constructed bacterial artificial chromosome libraries, generating an amount of DNA sequence that was approximately 16 percent of the full switchgrass genome. The work was described in an article published April 12, 2012 in PLoS One.
The team compared the switchgrass genomic data with those of related grasses including sorghum and Brachypodium, both of which had been previously sequenced at the DOE JGI. The results indicate that switchgrass is more closely related to sorghum than to other grasses.
“Our results suggest that findings from the model genomes can be utilized for initiating functional genomic studies in switchgrass,” they concluded. “However, due to widespread genome rearrangements, sorghum, along with soon to-be-completed foxtail millet genome will better serve as reference for assembling the genic region of the switchgrass genome.”