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Slideshow CK

Policy Brief Sustainable Bioenergy
Latin America and Africa

BIOEN WORKSHOP ON SUGARCANE IMPROVEMENT

FAPESP

São Paulo - Brazil

March 18th to 19th, 2009

 

REFERENCE TERM

The objective of the workshop is to explore key issues behind a roadmap to the goal of sugarcane improvement as a sustainable bioenergy and biomaterial feedstock. The Workshop has been divided in four sessions followed by a debate and preceded by an introductory conference.

Opening Conferece - Sucrose metabolism and sugar physiology: An introductory, historical perspective on sugarcane research focusing on the physiological aspects of growth and development of this crop.

Section 1: Gene Discovery and Sugarcane Genomics: We are all thinking about how to best exploit the amazing new capacity for fast genomic sequencing. Does it make sense as an international effort? What tools are available for sugarcane Gene Discovery efforts? What agronomic traits of interest should be targeted? Yield, sucrose content, drough tolerance, insect and disease resistance? How successful have we been in using the knowledge already available (ESTs data) for the improvement of sugarcane?  What are the strategies in Functional Genomics most suited to address sugar metabolism and allow for a systemic understanding of physiology and then how to engineer the energy cane? What are the best approaches to understand any special features of gene regulation in sugarcane? Is polyploidy a special problem for isolation of desired promoter specificities?

Section 2: Transgenics and Controlled Transgene Expression: Gene transfer into sugarcane has been routine for more than 15 years, but can we deliver commercial lines for 'next generation' traits? What are the hurdles to efficient production of lines with stable transgene expression in the required developmental patterns? What is the stability of the transgene since both tissue culture and transformation methods produce instability?  Discuss methods of evaluation in the field and progenies. Is polyploidy a special problem for transgene expression?

Section 3: Photosynthesis, sucrose metabolism, drought and sugar physiology: What are the key gaps in knowledge of sugar accumulation, cell wall metabolism, source-sink control mechanisms, water usage, carbon partitioning and ways to 'redesign' sugarcane as a sustainable bioenergy feedstock. Which questions must we answer in sugarcane, and which ones can we answer faster with help from other model systems?

Section 4: Breeding and Statistical Genetics: How can molecular biotech best interface with conventional breeding approaches? How much progress can be expected using non-GM approaches with better selection methods? How can molecular markers be efficiently identified and effectively used for the improvement of sugarcane? Do we have efficient trial designs to detect elite transgenics against a large background of lines with unwanted adverse effects on other commercial traits? How quickly can favourable transgene events be moved into commercial lines through crossing?