Winter harvest? Russian grass genes could hold key to developing cold-tolerant corn, sugar cane

Miscanthus sacchariflorus
Miscanthus sacchariflorus

Winters in eastern Russia are intensely cold, with air temperatures regularly reaching minus 30 degrees in some locations. It is a seemingly inhospitable climate, but native plants have found ways to thrive there.

University of Illinois plant geneticist Erik Sacks suspected one of these plants may hold the key to breeding cold-tolerant food and biomass crops.

To find out, the modern-day botanical explorer set off across eastern Russia with colleagues … to collect specimens of the perennial grass Miscanthus sacchariflorus.

“Miscanthus is part of a tribe of grasses, the Andropogoneae, that includes sorghum, sugarcane, and corn,” Sacks explained. “Because it is found so far north, this population of Miscanthus sacchariflorus is likely the most cold-hardy of that group. If we want to improve cold hardiness in this very important group of plants, this is going to be best population to study.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The analysis also showed that plants in the collection were genetically diverse, a fact that could potentially be exploited by breeders to express desirable traits in new miscanthus varieties or to add greater cold hardiness to its relatives, sugarcane and maize.

[Read the full study here.]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Improving cold hardiness in miscanthus

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend