U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Date of this Version



Physiologia Plantarum 146: 375–387. 2012; doi:10.1111/j.1399-3054.2012.01646.x


Sorghum, a species able to produce a high yield of biomass and tolerate both drought and poor soil fertility, is considered to be a potential bioenergy crop candidate. The reduced lignin content characteristic of brown midrib (bmr) mutants improves the efficiency of bioethanol conversion from biomass. Suppression subtractive hybridization combined with cDNA microarray profiling was performed to characterize differential gene expression in a set of 13 bmr mutants, which accumulate significantly less lignin than the wildtype plant BTx623. Among the 153 differentially expressed genes identified, 43 were upregulated and 110 down regulated in the mutants. A semiquantitative RT–PCR analysis applied to 12 of these genes largely validated the microarray analysis data. The transcript abundance of genes encoding L-phenylalanine ammonia lyase and cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase was less in the mutants than in the wild type, consistent with the expectation that both enzymes are associated with lignin synthesis. However, the gene responsible for the lignin synthesis enzyme cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase was upregulated in the mutants, indicating that the production of monolignol from L-phenylalanine may involve more than one pathway. The identity of the differentially expressed genes could be useful for breeding sorghum with improved efficiency of bioethanol conversion from lignocellulosic biomass.