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B. Efforts to Decode DNA of Soybean, an Alternative Energy Source

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.