Sugar Content and Functional Analysis of Candidate Genes



Sucrose is the main product from sugarcane and any effort to improve this crop has to focus on achieving higher yields of this sugar. This can be done by an increase in tonnage, meaning more plant mass per area or, ideally, by an increase in sugar content, since vegetative yield also increases the cost to harvest, transport and mill the cane. Besides sucrose, many other oligo and polysaccharides are produced. Structural polysaccharides such as cellulose and pectins are required for cell wall formation and storage carbohydrates such as starch are an important component of temporary store in periods of active photosynthesis. Our effort is to identify genes that play a role in the way these sugars are produced, distiributed and accumulated in sugarcane. Gene expression of sugarcane clones presenting significative differences in the amount and in the way they accumulate sugar are being studied.

Genes presenting significative variation in expression, identified in this and other projects of Sucest-fun will have their role better studied in transgenic sugarcane plants that will be produced at the Rede Universitária para o Desenvolvimento do Setor Sucrolacooleiro (RIDESA), previously known as PLANALSUCAR. RIDESA has produced since 1991, giving emphasis on the maintenance and continuity of research related to the Program for Genetic Improvement of Sugar cane. It has planted them under experimental greenhouse and field conditions, and has developed an expertise that will permit testing either suppression or over expression of many different genes.