USDA scientists have discovered a gene that essentially keeps switchgrass in its juvenile form – and they say it could have far-reaching implications for the development of the plant as a biofuel crop. The insertion of a specific gene from corn – called corngrass – into switchgrass keeps the perennial grass from flowering, producing seeds and from having a dormant growth phase. As a result of those changes – the sugars making up the plant starch are more readily available for conversion into cellulosic ethanol.
Agricultural Research Service Geneticist Sarah Hake explains that the starch stays inside the stem because it isn’t needed elsewhere for nourishing flower buds and blossoms. As a result – starch levels can increase as much as 250-percent – increasing the sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.
source: NAFB News service