Halophytes As Bioenergy Crops; Front. Plant Sci., 13 September 2016

  • 1School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2Stress Physiology and Molecular Biology Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 3School of Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Shrinking arable land due to soil salinization and, depleting fresh water resources pose serious worldwide constraints to crop productivity. A vision of using plant feedstock for biofuel production can only be realized if we can identify alternate species that can be grown on saline soils and therefore, would not compete for the resources required for conventional agriculture. Halophytes have remarkable ability to grow under high salinity conditions. They can be irrigated with seawater without compromising their biomass and seed yields making them good alternate candidates as bioenergy crops. Both oil produced from the seeds and the lignocellulosic biomass of halophytes can be utilized for biofuel production. Several researchers across the globe have recognized this potential and assessed several halophytes for their tolerance to salt, seed oil contents and composition of their lignocellulosic biomass. Here, we review current advances and highlight the key species of halophytes analyzed for this purpose. We have critically assessed the challenges and opportunities associated with using halophytes as bioenergy crops.


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Evolving Tale of TCPs: New Paradigms and Old Lacunae

 Namrata Dhaka1, Vasudha Bhardwaj2, Manoj K. Sharma2 and Rita Sharma1*

  • 1Crop Genetics & Informatics Group, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2Crop Genetics & Informatics Group, School of Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Teosinte Branched1/Cycloidea/Proliferating cell factors (TCP) genes are key mediators of genetic innovations underlying morphological novelties, stress adaptation, and evolution of immune response in plants. They have a remarkable ability to integrate and translate diverse endogenous, and environmental signals with high fidelity. Compilation of studies, aimed at elucidating the mechanism of TCP functions, shows that it takes an amalgamation and interplay of several different factors, regulatory processes and pathways, instead of individual components, to achieve the incredible functional diversity and specificity, demonstrated by TCP proteins. Through this minireview, we provide a brief description of key structural features and molecular components, known so far, that operate this conglomerate, and highlight the important conceptual challenges and lacunae in TCP research.


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Sweet sorghum as biofuel feedstock: recent advances and available resources

Sweet sorghum is a promising target for biofuel production. It is a C4 crop with low input requirements and accumulates high levels of sugars in its stalks. However, large-scale planting on marginal lands would require improved varieties with optimized biofuel-related traits and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Considering this, many studies have been carried out to generate genetic and genomic resources for sweet sorghum. In this review, we discuss various attributes of sweet sorghum that make it an ideal candidate for biofuel feedstock, and provide an overview of genetic diversity, tools, and resources available for engineering and/or marker-assisting breeding of sweet sorghum. Finally, the progress made so far, in identification of genes/quantitative trait loci (QTLs) important for agronomic traits and ongoing molecular breeding efforts to generate improved varieties, has been discussed.