Panic Grass – Part of a larger $41 million investment

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have moved their eye from the Switchgrass- a most potential source of biofuel to the Panicgrass, to study the genetics and physiology of switchgrass. As switchgrass is a very large perennial plant,requiring a lot of space to grow, and has a very complex genome and breeding system, Tom Juenger and his colleagues at the University of Texas, College of Natural Sciences, chose to study panicgrass, because of its close genetic relation to switchgrass.  Moreover it’s much smaller and has a simpler genome, which helps in the evaluation of genes that underlie plant growth, architecture, and response to environmental stresses.“We will then translate our findings into the more agronomically important switchgrass, Panicum virgatum.” said Juenger, associate professor of integrative biology. They have received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study this native prairie grasses as potential sources of biofuel. The grant is part of a larger $41 million investment from the DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 13 projects that will drive more efficient biofuels production and feedstock improvements.