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DOE grant to support enhanced biofuel crop design


Xiaohan Yang works with a model plant for crassu¬lacean acid metabolism (CAM) genomics research. January 2013.

DOE has awarded a $14.3 million grant to study crassu­lacean acid metabolism (CAM) and drought tolerance in biofuel crops to a research team that includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee.

“CAM is a photosynthetic CO2 fixation mechanism com­mon in plants that grow in hot and arid environments to maximize water use efficiency,” said team member Xiaohan Yang, of ORNL’s Biosciences Division (BSD). The project will at­tempt to engineer a CAM pathway in poplar and Arabidop­sis (a model plant for studying plant biology), Yang said. Introducing the CAM machinery into a bioenergy crop like poplar would enable it to use water more efficiently and thrive on marginal land.

Funding for the five year project is from the Genomic Science program in DOE’s Office of Biological and Environ­mental Research. Other ORNL researchers participating in the project include BSD’s Anne Borland, Jin-Gui Chen, Guruprasad Kora, Madhavi Martin, Timothy Tschaplinski, Gerald Tuskan, and David Weston. The Universities of Nevada and Liverpool and Newcastle University are also part of the research team.

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