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Collaborative Success Stories: Sweet Stalk


Sugar transport might hold the key to better plants.

Plants harvest energy through photosynthesis, using sunlight to produce sugars. Currently, little is known about the genes that regulate the transport of the sugars, which build different parts of the plant.

University of Missouri researcher Dr. David Braun wants to change that. Braun leads a team of researchers from the University of Florida, Purdue University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and St. Michael’s College in Vermont. The group received a $6.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study these genes. Additionally, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Braun is working to understand how sweet sorghum, a biofuels crop, accumulates large amounts of sugar in the stem.

“By understanding how the movement of carbohydrates is regulated, we may be able to engineer plants that better meet the needs of farmers and consumers,” says Braun. The research may lead to increased yield, more drought-resistant plants and easier production of biofuels.

Dr. David Braun is an associate professor in the Division of Biological Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences.  He is a member of MU’s internationally-known Interdisciplinary Plant Group and director of the Missouri Maize Center.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future