Narrator: This is Science Today. In an effort to develop a renewable, alternative fuel, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is joining forces with the Department of Energy to decode the DNA of the soybean – the principal source of biodiesel. The sequencing will be tackled by the Joint Genome Institute, a Northern California facility operated by the University of California . Jerry Tuskan, a researcher at the Joint Genome Institute, says the goal is to optimize the soybean for bioenergy production.
Tuskan: Right now, it's grown for animal feed and for human consumption. We think that we will be able to apply an understanding of the genome to develop a list of all the genes that are in the genome, so that we can modify the plant to be better suited for bioenergy and biomass conversion into energy.
Narrator: Tuskan says they'll look to increase oil production throughout the plant, not just in the seeds.
Tuskan: Can we get oil production in storage tissues within the leaves? Within the stem? And if we could do that, we could potentially increase the amount of oil coming off a given acre of land.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.