Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

Identification of Genes That Control Biomass Production Using Rice as a Model System

2008 Awardee

Investigators: Jan E. Leach, Daniel R. Bush, John McKay, and Hei Leung (IRRI)

Institution: Colorado State University

Non-Technical Summary: Our long term goal is to provide the applied biomass research community and industry with information to allow exploitation of the genes and pathways relevant to biomass accumulation in grasses. We will use rice as a model because of the powerful genetic and genomic resources in rice, and because, despite our historic selection away from biomass production for food-production purposes, rice has all the genes necessary for high biomass productivity. We will identify those genes to expedite improvement of productivity in candidate biomass plants (switchgrass, Miscanthus).

Objectives: The objectives of the proposal are to: (1) Identify regions of rice chromosomes that contain genes involved in biomass accumulation (quantitative traits or QTL), (2) Dissect the complex traits using a genetic and genomic approaches, (3) Validate the significance of candidate genes or pathways in biomass accumulation, (4) Integrate all data into browser/database to allow easy navigation and use of the data.

Approach: We have already identified three rice lines that exhibit wide variation in biomass accumulation, and genetic populations that can be used to examine the genetic basis of biomass accumulation are at advanced stages. These rice populations will be used to identify gene regions responsible for biomass accumulation (biomass QTL) (Obj. 1). To pinpoint the genes and chromosomal regions, we will use a combination of data from genetic mapping, gene expression, and mutational analyses (Obj. 2). The role of specific gene candidates in biomass traits will be validated using mutant analysis, gene silencing strategies or overexpression analysis (Obj. 3). All data will be graphic displayed on project website to facilitate identification of gene candidates for the biomass traits (Obj. 4). Screening and field assessments as well as data integration will involve close international collaboration through exchange of PIs and postdoctoral fellows between CSU and IRRI.

Deliverables from this project include: (1) Characterized genomic regions in rice that are associated with variation relevant to biomass production, (2) Permanent rice genetic stocks that will enable further exploitation of biomass diversity and other desirable traits, (3) selected candidate genes associated with biomass production, (4) validation of function of genes predicted to be involved in biomass production.

Project Contact
Name: J.E. Leach
Phone: 970-491-2924
Fax: 970-491-3862
Email: [email protected]