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Improving Plants by Increasing Biomass, Starting from Seeds

Sang-Jin Kim (center). By Harley J Seeley

Sang-Jin Kim, assistant professor in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, and his colleagues in the Brandizzi lab want to make plants more productive and resilient in the face of such challenges as climate change, feeding a burgeoning global population and producing sustainable biofuels.

“One of the approaches to improving plants is increasing their biomass, or how much living and usable matter a plant creates during its life cycle,” Sang-Jin says. In a study published in the journal Planta, he and his colleagues show that early stages of plant development, specifically when seeds develop, are a turbulent time for a plant. How well it manages internal and external pressures is crucial to yield quality later on.

“We were interested in the proteins that produce carbs that go into new seeds, specifically in plants targeted for producing biofuels, like sorghum or switch grass. The more you can pack those carbs in a seed, the more the yield later on.”


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