Herbaceous energy crops, especially grasses like switchgrass and Miscanthus, are poised to become a major source of energy in the United States. Because of their efficient water use and productivity, it is anticipated that the majority of the 377 million tons of biomass projected to be produced by energy crops will come from perennial grasses like switchgrass and Miscanthus. However, the grasses proposed as energy crops are essentially undomesticated wild collections and the knowledge of basic grass biology could be used to design rational strategies for crop improvement and greatly accelerate the domestication of these new crops. Using the model system Brachypodium distachyon or Brachy is a more efficient way to gain the knowledge about basic grass biology needed to serve as a foundation for the development of superior energy crops. This project calls for sequencing a collection of 2,000 chemical and radiation B. distachyon mutants to create one of the largest single sets of sequenced plant genomes.
Proposer: Debbie Laudencia-Chingcuanco, USDA-ARS