We’re helping ourselves by generating ‘ideal’ biomass plants for production and harvest, and we’re helping the plants by introducing resistance to stresses or diseases that makes it easier for them to grow.
Nancy Reichert BS’79 found her love of plants as a child when she played in the forest at her grandparents’ dairy farm. After graduating from UW–Madison, John Kemp, then a professor of plant pathology, asked her to work as a lab technician at Agrigenetics Advanced Research Lab, a small start-up company where researchers were racing to perfect gene-transfer technology. Reichert went on to earn a PhD from New Mexico State University and is now a professor at Mississippi State University. There she studies miscanthus, a sun-loving, reedy grass that has the potential to become a go-to plant for biofuel and carbon sequestration. She and a team of researchers unlocked the perennial’s potential by editing miscanthus genes to knock out or change their function. New genes that make further beneficial modifications can now be inserted at precise points in the miscanthus genome. Read more: go.wisc.edu/a3f0a8