Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is an excellent energy source. Its roots contain 20-40% starch that costs 15-30% less to produce per hectare than starch from corn, making it an attractive and strategic source of renewable energy. Cassava grows in diverse environments, from very dry to extremely humid, from acidic to alkaline soils, from sea level to high altitudes, and in nutrient-poor soil. Moreover, it is grown worldwide as a source of food for approximately 1 billion people, raising the possibility that it could be used globally to alleviate dependence on fossil fuels. The effort to sequence the cassava genome will be aided by alignments to the genomes of poplar and castor bean, plants closely related to cassava, and available cassava BAC libraries and EST and cDNA sequences will facilitate annotation. This project will elucidate the genetic machinery required for efficient energy production in a range of environments, and the information it yields will enable improvement to a wide range of crops important for the US biofuel supply.
Principal Investigator: Claude M. Fauquet (Donald Danforth Plant Science Ctr.)