ORNL researchers introduce poplar gene into switchgrass to allow for fungus interaction

October 5, 2021 |

In Tennessee, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory team has successfully introduced a poplar gene into switchgrass, an important biofuel source, that allows switchgrass to interact with a beneficial fungus, ultimately boosting the grass’s growth and viability in changing environments. 

Scientists observed the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor as it enveloped the plant’s roots. This behavior, not known to occur naturally between these fungi and switchgrass, helps the plant to efficiently take up nutrients and water. This symbiotic relationship results in switchgrass that is more disease- and drought-resistant.

In a previous study, the team identified the receptor gene that looks out for friendly fungi. Next the team will validate the laboratory findings with a field study. 

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Category: Research

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