Monday, May 2, 2011
Grand Ballroom C-D, 2nd fl (Sheraton Seattle)
Miscanthus is a fast-growing perennial grass with low input requirements and a favourable energy balance that grows well in temperate climates. These properties are highly desirable in an energy crop and consequently these grasses are currently grown in the UK for the production of heat and power. More recently interest has focussed on the use of Miscanthus as a lignocellulosic feedstock for conversion to ethanol. This presents the challenge of a cost-effective process for recovering sugars from the fibre fraction of a relatively highly lignified crop. In order to facilitate release of cell wall sugars we developed a transformation system to enable incorporation of cell-wall degrading enzymes, under appropriate promoters, into Miscanthus. Embryogenic calli of several Miscanthus sinensis genotypes were co-bombarded with an FAE (ferulic acid esterase) construct, that had been successfully expressed in other grass species, and the selective bar or hpt genes. A number of plants were regenerated after selection which expressed the FAE gene and studies showed that expression was higher in stem compared with leaf tissues. The ferulic acid content of cell walls of several transformed plants was similar to control plants indicating no effect on cell wall phenotype.