Identifying Genes and Molecular Mechanisms that Regulate Bioenergy Sorghum Biomass Growth: Tesfamichael Kebrom’s Newly Published Work

Biofuel production is geared towards using perennial grasses (e.g., bioenergy sorghum) instead of traditional grain crops because grasses are long-lived and thus do not need to be planted each year.  Perennial grasses also need less fertilizer, water, and energy for production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build soil carbon through extensive belowground biomass production. Bioenergy sorghum accumulates 75% of shoot biomass in stem internodes which elongate in response to developmental and environmental signals.

To identify genes and molecular mechanisms that modulate the extent of internode growth, Dr. Tesfamichael Kebrom, the newest addition to the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center research personnel, in collaboration with members of his Texas A&M University Biochemistry and Biophysics Department conducted microscopic and transcriptomic analyses of four successive sub-apical vegetative internodes representing different stages of internode development of the bioenergy sorghum genotype R.07020.

Their microscopic analyses revealed that all internode tissue types are present in the four successive internodes. They also reported that expression patterns of transcription factors are closely associated with their role during the development of the vegetative internodes. Their study provides detailed microscopic and transcriptomic data useful for identifying genes and molecular pathways regulating internode elongation in response to various developmental and environmental signals. The team’s members are working on a follow-up paper on the identification of key genes that promote stem elongation in response to light signals perceived by red and far-red light-sensing plant photoreceptors. Details on this published work can be found at this link:

Ali Fares, Ph.D.
Ali Fares, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Research, Cooperative Agricultural Research Center
(936) 261-5019