Sugarcane and Miscanthus are closely related to the DOE JGI Flagship plant Sorghum and comprise the Andropogoneae, a tribe of highly productive grasses prominent in energy production. Miscanthus is a nascent DOE JGI flagship, pending completion of a reference genome draft. Sugarcanes and Miscanthus are both polyploids with complex genomes, which has limited the use of modern, genomic breeding in these crops. The team is working toward developing commercial cultivars of Miscanthus and sugarcane by applying gene expression and sequence analysis studies to the variation in pedigrees. One aspect the team focuses on how these grasses can annually provide high yields of harvestable biomass. To this end, they want to learn more about the gene expression of the plant tissues related to the health of the ratoon – the basal stems and rhizomes left behind after the above ground biomass is removed. In temperate perennial grasses, the rhizomes go dormant over winter and tillers emerge in spring.
Proposer’s Name: Kankshita Swaminathan, University of Illinois