A Resource for Grass Cell Wall Genes

Most of the biomass in grass species is contributed by cell walls that are distinct in composition from all other flowering plants.

The Science

The lignocellulosic biomass contained within the cell walls of grasses makes these plants key candidates for renewable biofuel feedstocks. A major hurdle to utilizing this biomass is in deconstructing the cell walls. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in collaboration with scientists at Purdue University and University of Florida now have constructed a database of over 750 maize (corn) genes involved in cell wall biogenesis. A high throughput spectroscopic screening method was developed during this research to identify mutant plants with unusual cell wall composition and architecture that cannot be distinguished through visual examination alone. Such mutants will be very useful in elucidating the functions of the grass cell wall biogenesis genes, which in turn will facilitate efforts to improve biomass yield and quality in grass bioenergy species. An article on their new resource appears in the December 2009 issue of the journal Plant Physiology.

BER Program Manager

Kari Perez

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


Penning, B. W., C. T. Hunter, R. Tayengwa, A. L. Eveland, C. K. Dugard, A. T. Olek, W. Vermerris, K. E. Koch, D. R. McCarty, M. F. Davis, S. R. Thomas, M. C. McCann, and N. C. Carpita. 2009. “Genetic Resources for Maize Cell Wall Biology,” Plant Physiology 151, 1703-28. DOI:10.1104/pp.109.136804.