HudsonAlpha Research Report 2021-2022



bioenergy &

bio products

H istorically, goods were made to last a lifetime. If damage occurred, consum- ers repaired these high-quality items rather than purchase new ones. In stark contrast, today we live amid a throwaway culture characterized by disposable convenience items with short lifespans. As such, humans produce over two billion tons of garbage yearly. The recycling rate of plastic, paper, and aluminum goods is low, so most garbage ends up in landfills, on the sides of highways, and in our oceans. Single-use product pollution is only one part of the throwaway culture that is wreaking havoc on the environment. Convenience buying increases the expansion of the carbon footprint. A lot of fuel is required to deliver goods to consumers across the globe, with 88 million barrels of oil being used every day. Fossil fuel-based energy creates air and water pollution, thought to contrib- ute to global warming. As our planet continues to warm and our populations grow exponentially, now more than ever, we need sustain- able, carbon-neutral ways to feed, fuel, clothe, and provide goods to the world. Members of the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture aim to be stewards of sustainability, using genomics to create more

efficient crop plants to help bring sustainable practices and products to market. Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD , and her lab are focused on improving perennial grasses for feedstock for bioenergy and sustainable products.

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE, CIRCULAR ECONOMY, ONE PLANT AT A TIME Miscanthus is a perennial wild grass of global importance for papermaking, roofing, and decorative plantings. It recently emerged as a promising crop for bioenergy and renewable bioproducts. Dr. Swaminathan and her lab study Miscanthus as part of the feedstock production research group for the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), which the U.S. Department of Energy funds. In 2020, Swaminathan’s lab, along with over 40 other CABBI collab- orators, sequenced the full genome of Miscanthus sinesis and discovered important information on gene expression in the leaves, stems, and rhizome of the grasses 1 . Since the genome was published, Swaminathan’s lab continues its efforts to understand the function of the genes that control traits and adaptations important to the success of Miscanthus , like biomass production and

The ability to target specific genes in endogenous gene editing opens a new door for genetic improvement of both Miscanthus and switchgrass for bioenergy feedstock and material for renewable bioproducts.



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