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Sugarcane biomass engineering for bioethanol production

Grant number: 17/15895-4
Support type:Program for Research on Bioenergy (BIOEN) - Regular Program Grants
Duration: February 01, 2018 - January 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics
Principal Investigator:Pedro Araújo
Grantee:Pedro Araújo
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Marcelo Menossi Teixeira


The sugarcane is a important source of renewable carbon for biofuels production. Currently, the research are focused to use lignocellulosic plant material for second generation bioethanol production. The release of fermentable sugars from plant biomass is closely correlated to cell wall composition and organization. However, sugarcane are polyploid, complex genome and high genetic redundancy becoming a challenge to identify and characterize genes for GMO production. Furthermore, the studies are mainly focused on model plants, little exploited in commercial monocots. The gene orthology is not sufficient to corroborate gene function and, at same time, there is lack of information about cell wall genes. The genome have 10% of the genes related to cell wall and only 121 genes are already characterized in Arabidopsis thaliana. The challenge for ethanol producing is the use of lignocellulosic materials and its heterogeneous polysaccharides linked to macromolecules of indigestible lignin promoting decreasing of saccharification efficient. Furthermore, the hemicellulose, a linker of cellulose microfibrils, can also effect negatively the conversion of biomass to ethanol. It occurs due less accessibility for cellulases to cellulose promoted by xylan. Increased The saccharification efficiency is an important parameter allowing costs reducing and energetic matrix diversification. We have to apply our knowledge from model plants into commercial plants to go forward in this field. Thus, we identified five homologs genes in sugarcane using SUCEST database. The selected genes can increase fermentable sugars through different ways: regulating precursors of monolignol metabolism, introducing new monomers into lignin polymer and hemicellulose architecture for cellulase activity. The scarce studies in sugarcane transgenic showed that this approach is feasible and can produce valuable strategies. The core of the project is the production of plants using promising genes for biomass quality using lignocellulosic material from sugarcane. (AU)