Making grass sweeter
Increasing fructan levels
High levels of fructans – the major reserve carbohydrate of grasses – are desirable in forages as they improve animal production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from animal wastes.
However, fructan biosynthesis is
strongly dependent on environmental conditions and requires lower temperatures.
Pinpointing the regulators that drive fructan gene expression is a key factor for success in metabolic engineering. By combining gene and metabolite profiling we are able to identify genes with previously unknown functions, and are developing novel analysis tools to integrate these types of data. This will allow us to identify these regulators and modify their activity to produce grasses that are sweet even in higher temperatures.