Tag Archives: biofuel

Phytozome

A newly enhanced database and resource is available to researchers called Phytozome. Phytozome is targeted as a hub of genomic data for plants of interest in biofuel research and a joint project of the DOE JGI and UC Berkeley’s Center for Integrative Genomics. As a recent press release states,

The gene families available in Phytozome, defined at several evolutionarily significant epochs, provide a framework for the transfer of functional information to important biofuel and agricultural crops from model plant systems, as well as allowing users to explore land plant evolution.

This release is v. 4 and includes the genomes of 14 plants from green algae, arabidopsis and corn. The resource uses GBrowse (free tutorial and training materials) as it’s genome browser, BioMart for advanced searching and has BLAST capability. I find Gramene a bit more extensive than Phytozome, but the focus of the two (biofuel plants and agricultural grains for Phytozome and Gramene respectively) are different and Phytozome is becoming quite extensive.

I remember going to a DOE/JGI users conference last year and being quite impressed with the research going on in biofuel, and also more sobered by the obstacles both techological and practical (use of food-producing land, etc) that we face. With rising gas prices and temperatures, can’t ask for too much information!

Miscanthus genome will "fuel" advances

miscanthusI am still digesting (so to speak) the conference I went to the last couple days at JGI. The thrust of the conference was the sequencing and study of genomes (both biomass fuelstock and bacteria/fungus digesters :)) to help create a liquid fuel source for our energy needs. I found it to be a fascinating conference and will definitely write more about it early next week.

For now, I’d like to point you to the work being done on the Miscanthus genome. This is a fascinating plant and possibility for a fuel source. It’s more productive than Switchgrass (and corn and sugar), it has no known diseases or pests (though that will change when/if it becomes a major crop), it is perennial needing much less fertilizer/pesticide input, it grows by rhizomes and sequesters carbon in the ground, it would take much less land to supply liquid fuel needs, it is drought resistant and it can cure cancer. Ok, so the last is not true. Yet, it is a very promising plant. The genome is being sequenced to help scientists and growers determine ways to domesticate it better and to solve the “big” problem… the expense of converting the cellulose to fuel (which is also the topic of metagenomic and genomic research on bacteria at JGI).