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Title: Expanding the breeder’s toolbox for perennial grasses

Abstract

With the increase in world energy demand and the environmental impacts associated with continued fossil fuel use, there is a great need for the development of alternative and sustainable fuel sources. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a perennial grass native to North America, is poised to become one of the first dedicated biomass crops deployed on a large scale in the United States in large part due to its inherent high yield, adaptability and perennial nature. Current ‘cultivars’ of switchgrass are essentially undomesticated wild selections from natural populations. Thus, there is considerable potential for improvement of this emerging energy crop. Traditional breeding approaches in switchgrass have been hampered by its self-incompatibility and sensitivity to inbreeding, therefore there is a significant need to develop new tools for improved switchgrass breeding. The proposed research uses a systems biology approach to accelerate switchgrass breeding, to develop its biotechnological improvement through the generation of stress-tolerant varieties, and to establish ways to minimize the potential impact of transgenes on ecosystems. In this proposal, we will develop new breeding tools for perennial grasses and apply these tools toward improving switchgrass. Specifically, we will employ two complementary approaches to overcome the difficulty of breeding a large, polyploid, self-incompatiblemore » plant. The first approach will accelerate conventional breeding by developing a method to rapidly create doubled haploid (homozygous) lines for breeding. This approach is based on altering CENH3, a centromere-specific histone, leading to the production of haploid offspring when the centromere mutant is crossed to wild type plants. Subsequent genome doubling results in fully homozygous individuals and overcomes one of the major limitations in breeding self-incompatibile crops. These homozygous lines would allow switchgrass breeders to apply a variety of breeding approaches that have been previously impossible. The second approach is to develop tools and reagents to accelerate the biotechnological improvement of switchgrass including: modules for improved stress tolerance, a test bed to evaluate transgenes in a perennial model grass and a robust gene containment system. In order to maintain a favorable energy balance and avoid competition with food crops, dedicated biomass crops must be grown with minimal inputs (fertilizer and water) on marginal lands that are unsuited to the traditional high input agriculture necessary to produce food. Thus, abiotic stress tolerance and efficient water and nutrient use are of paramount importance. Considerable basic research has been directed at these areas and this knowledge has been used to develop transgenic approaches to greatly improve water and nutrient use efficiency. By applying these approaches to switchgrass we will rapidly increase drought tolerance and nutrient use efficiency. This approach can rapidly introduce these traits in different cultivars allowing breeders to add these traits to their elite germplasm. Since biotechnologically improved switchgrass must ultimately be grown in open fields, they must be designed to minimize the potential impact of the transgenes on non-target ecosystems. The best way to do this is to minimize gene flow from the transgenic plants. Thus, we will develop technology to introduce sterility into the transgenic plants. We will then combine this technology with the stress resistance modules to create switchgrass lines with enhanced resistance to abiotic stresses.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Eduardo Blumwald/University of California, Davis
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1483299
Report Number(s):
DOE-UCD-08797
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0008797
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Related Information: Yoon S, Aucar S, Hernlem BJ, Edme S, Palmer N, Sarath G, Mitchell R, Blumwald E, Tobias CM (2016). Generation of Octaploid Switchgrass by Seedling Treatment with Mitotic Inhibitors. BioEnergy Res. 10:344-352. Sade N, Wilhelmi MM, Ke X, Brotman Y, Wright M, Khan I, De Souza W, Bassil E, Tobias CM, Thilmony R, Vogel JP, Blumwald E (2018). Salt tolerance of two perennial grass Brachypodium Sylvaticum accessions. Plant Mol. Biol. 96:305-314. Brachypodium sylvaticum resources: https://jgi.doe.gov/our-science/science-programs/plant-genomics/brachypodium/
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; Perennial grasses - biofuels -breeding-environmental stress

Citation Formats

Blumwald, Eduardo, Vogel, John, Thilmony, Roger, and Tobias, Christian. Expanding the breeder’s toolbox for perennial grasses. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1483299.
Blumwald, Eduardo, Vogel, John, Thilmony, Roger, & Tobias, Christian. Expanding the breeder’s toolbox for perennial grasses. United States. doi:10.2172/1483299.
Blumwald, Eduardo, Vogel, John, Thilmony, Roger, and Tobias, Christian. Mon . "Expanding the breeder’s toolbox for perennial grasses". United States. doi:10.2172/1483299. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1483299.
@article{osti_1483299,
title = {Expanding the breeder’s toolbox for perennial grasses},
author = {Blumwald, Eduardo and Vogel, John and Thilmony, Roger and Tobias, Christian},
abstractNote = {With the increase in world energy demand and the environmental impacts associated with continued fossil fuel use, there is a great need for the development of alternative and sustainable fuel sources. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a perennial grass native to North America, is poised to become one of the first dedicated biomass crops deployed on a large scale in the United States in large part due to its inherent high yield, adaptability and perennial nature. Current ‘cultivars’ of switchgrass are essentially undomesticated wild selections from natural populations. Thus, there is considerable potential for improvement of this emerging energy crop. Traditional breeding approaches in switchgrass have been hampered by its self-incompatibility and sensitivity to inbreeding, therefore there is a significant need to develop new tools for improved switchgrass breeding. The proposed research uses a systems biology approach to accelerate switchgrass breeding, to develop its biotechnological improvement through the generation of stress-tolerant varieties, and to establish ways to minimize the potential impact of transgenes on ecosystems. In this proposal, we will develop new breeding tools for perennial grasses and apply these tools toward improving switchgrass. Specifically, we will employ two complementary approaches to overcome the difficulty of breeding a large, polyploid, self-incompatible plant. The first approach will accelerate conventional breeding by developing a method to rapidly create doubled haploid (homozygous) lines for breeding. This approach is based on altering CENH3, a centromere-specific histone, leading to the production of haploid offspring when the centromere mutant is crossed to wild type plants. Subsequent genome doubling results in fully homozygous individuals and overcomes one of the major limitations in breeding self-incompatibile crops. These homozygous lines would allow switchgrass breeders to apply a variety of breeding approaches that have been previously impossible. The second approach is to develop tools and reagents to accelerate the biotechnological improvement of switchgrass including: modules for improved stress tolerance, a test bed to evaluate transgenes in a perennial model grass and a robust gene containment system. In order to maintain a favorable energy balance and avoid competition with food crops, dedicated biomass crops must be grown with minimal inputs (fertilizer and water) on marginal lands that are unsuited to the traditional high input agriculture necessary to produce food. Thus, abiotic stress tolerance and efficient water and nutrient use are of paramount importance. Considerable basic research has been directed at these areas and this knowledge has been used to develop transgenic approaches to greatly improve water and nutrient use efficiency. By applying these approaches to switchgrass we will rapidly increase drought tolerance and nutrient use efficiency. This approach can rapidly introduce these traits in different cultivars allowing breeders to add these traits to their elite germplasm. Since biotechnologically improved switchgrass must ultimately be grown in open fields, they must be designed to minimize the potential impact of the transgenes on non-target ecosystems. The best way to do this is to minimize gene flow from the transgenic plants. Thus, we will develop technology to introduce sterility into the transgenic plants. We will then combine this technology with the stress resistance modules to create switchgrass lines with enhanced resistance to abiotic stresses.},
doi = {10.2172/1483299},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {11}
}