Peach Genome Offers Hints for Better Biofuel Production, Study Says

A long-term genomic analysis of the common peach has revealed important insights into how scientists can improve the biofuel potential of other plant species, including the fast-growing poplar tree, a new study says.

Three years after a team of scientists first released a draft description of the annotated peach genome, researchers make the case that the 265-million base sequence can be used to better understand the biology of related tree species, including the poplar, which like the peach is a member of the rosid superfamily.

Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the scientists describe how a comparison of the peach’s genetics with six other fully sequenced plant species revealed metabolic pathways that lead to the formation of lignin, the durable biopolymer that holds plant cells together — and a barrier to breaking down biomass into fuels.

“One gene we’re interested in is the so-called ‘evergreen’ locus in peaches, which extends the growing season,” said Daniel Rokhsar, a U.S. Department of Energy scientist who leads the sequencing of the peach genome. According to Rokhsar, that gene could be manipulated to increase the biomass accumulation of related species.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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