Genetic Dissection of C4 Photosynthesis in Grasses

Thomas P. Brutnel
Thomas P. Brutnell
Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels, Danforth Plant Science Center, USA
13:45~14:30, Novemeber 20th, 2014

Abstract :

C4 photosynthesis evolved multiple times throughout the angiosperms and at least 22 times independently in the grasses.  We have utilized a comparative genomics approach to explore the diversity of mechanisms involved in the recruitment of C3 enzymes and regulatory modules for the function of a C4 carbon shuttle cycle. This includes utilizing comparative transcriptomics across developmentally staged leaf tissue, comparative genomics across C3 and C4 grasses and most recently comparative genetics, an exploration of gene function across C4 grass species utilizing classical genetics analysis. I will present the results of recent studies that have provided insights into both the mechanism of C4 evolution and current selection pressures that are likely maintaining the C4 syndrome.


Research Interests

Dr. Thomas Brutnell joined the Danforth Center in 2012 to lead the Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels. A primary objective of Dr. Brutnell’s program is to expand the research portfolio to include the use of model plant systems to accelerate gene discovery and the development of second generation lignocellulosic feedstocks. This work will complement ongoing algal research and provide new opportunities for forming academic and industrial partnerships. Brutnell’s research is focused on understanding photosynthetic differentiation and, in particular, identifying the transcriptional networks that drive C4 photosynthetic development. Applications of this research include improving photosynthetic efficiencies in emerging bioenergy feedstocks such as Miscanthus and switchgrass, as well as improving yield in existing C4 crops such as maize, sorghum and sugarcane. Brutnell is also working with a large international consortium to engineer C4 traits into C3 grasses


Awards and Honors

  • 2012 : AAAS Fellow
  • 2012 : International Research Initiatives Scheme (IRIS) Award, Australia
  • 2000 : Human Frontier Science Program Short Term Fellowship
  • 1997-1999 : BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, UK
  • 1996-1997 : Linacre College Junior Research Fellow, UK
  • 1989 : University Honors Scholar, University of Connecticut
  • 1989 : Phi Beta Kappa Awarded, University of Connecticut