Transgenic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) biomass is increased by overexpression of switchgrass sucrose synthase (PvSUS1)

Steve Decker, Geoffrey Turner, Mark Davis, Charleson Poovaiah, Mitra Mazarei, C. Stewart, Robert Sykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus Citations


Sucrose synthase (SUS) converts sucrose and uridine di-phosphate (UDP) into UDP-glucose and fructose. UDP-glucose is used by the cellulose synthase to produce cellulose for cell wall biosynthesis. For lignocellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass, the manipulation of cell walls to decrease lignin content is needed to reduce recalcitrance of conversion of biomass into biofuels. Of perhaps equal importance for bioenergy feedstocks is increasing biomass. Four SUS genes were identified in switchgrass. Each gene contained 14 or 15 introns. PvSUS1 was expressed ubiquitously in the tissues tested. PvSUS2 and PvSUS6 were highly expressed in internodes and roots, respectively. PvSUS4 was expressed in low levels in the tissues tested. Transgenic switchgrass plants overexpressing PvSUS1 had increases in plant height by up to 37%, biomass by up to 13.6%, and tiller number by up to 79% compared to control plants. The lignin content was increased in all lines, while the sugar release efficiency was decreased in PvSUS1-overexpressing transgenic switchgrass plants. For switchgrass and other bioenergy feedstocks, the overexpression of SUS1 genes might be a feasible strategy to increase both plant biomass and cellulose content, and to stack with other genes to increase biofuel production per land area cultivated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)552-563
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-60615


  • Biofuel
  • Biomass
  • Overexpression
  • Sucrose synthase
  • Switchgrass


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