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Better Bioenergy Crops Through Microbe Matchmaking

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have found the specific proteins and amino acids that control bioenergy plants’ capability to find microbes that are beneficial to plant growth and carbon storage in soil according to a release.

LysM receptor-like kinases, the proteins, are in control of regulated the signaling between plants and microbes. The process plays an important role in biomass production, root performance and carbon storage. The study showed that these kinases help identify helpful and disease-causing microbes in poplar trees.

Scientists can utilize this information to improve bioengineering efforts surrounding plant-microbe symbiosis. This helps improve poplar trees’ growth and their sustainability in potential future climates.

“Having predictive insight into how receptors distinguish microbial friend from foe will reduce the number of design-build-test cycles needed to validate gene function and accelerate improvement of crop performance,” said ORNL’s Udaya Kalluri.

The research used computational structural biology to fast-track gene function identification in different plants through a multipronged approach.

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