NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – University of Missouri will use a $6.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study genes in corn that control the movement of carbohydrates, which could be used to make better crops for use in biofuels, the university said today.
Funded by NSF's Plant Genome Research Program, the research will study how genetics are involved in roadblocks that obstruct the flow of sucrose in corn plants. The research also could try to find ways to improve carbohydrate flow to corn ears in order to boost yield, or to make the plants' roots more drought resistant.
"Carbohydrate transport is one of the least understood but most important factors in plant development," explained David Braun, an associate professor in MU's Interdisciplinary Plant Group, in a statement. "By understanding how the movement of carbohydrates is regulated, we may be able to engineer plants that better meet the needs of farmers and consumers."
The research will be conducted with research partners at the University of Florida, Purdue University, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and St. Michael's College in Vermont.
Braun thinks that the studies may lead to ways to modify plants to store more carbohydrates as sucrose, which could make it cheaper to produce biofuels.