(675b) Advances in Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) Biotechnology towards Improved Feedstocks for Lignocellulosic Biomass Conversion
AIChE Annual Meeting
Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:40pm to 4:05pm
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a leading candidate feedstock for biofuels in the U.S. and is a crucial model feedstock component of the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC). Improvements in biotechnology of switchgrass are important for screening potential cell wall biosynthesis genes, and genetic transformation of switchgrass is being performed by five laboratories in three institutions within BESC. Within our lab, goals and milestones include improving tissue culture and transformation systems, isolating novel switchgrass promoters, developing a new versatile vector set for monocot transformation, and altering lignin and cellulose biosynthesis within switchgrass. Using a novel non-MS based tissue culture medium for increased production and maintenance of type II callus, the efficiency of stable transformation in switchgrass has increased from less than 3% to 10-15%, making it feasible for high throughput applications. Additionally, switchgrass cell suspension cultures have been produced and characterized for mutant selection, mass propagation, and gene transfer experiments via protoplast isolation for cell wall trait assessment. In order to coordinate gene expression within the BESC switchgrass transformation labs and to facilitate more rapid screening of genes, we have developed a Gateway-compatible transformation vector set (termed ?pANIC?) for overexpression and RNAi-mediated knockdown for use in switchgrass and other monocot species. Overall, BESC has facilitated the coordination of scientific expertise and research in switchgrass biotechnology that would have been otherwise impossible by one investigator with funding under a traditional grant.