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Extending Juvenile Stage of Plants for Biofuels and Feedstocks

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

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Technology Marketing Summary

Juvenile and adult grass tissue dramatically differs in anatomy, chemistry and ability to withstand stresses. Juvenile plants cannot flower and their leaves are better able to resist cold and drought. Moreover, they may be easier to process for biofuels and more digestible when used as feed.

The genes controlling the transition from the juvenile to adult phase in plants are not fully understood. With new genetic information, the ability to arrest maturation could help ease biomass processing and boost yields, among other agronomic benefits.


UW–Madison researchers have developed methods for locking plants in a juvenile state by modifying genes related to maturation.

The genes – GRMZM2G362718 or GRMZM2G096016 – have been analyzed by the researchers and shown to influence growth transition in corn. To alter plant development, these genes and their homologs could be knocked out or inhibited by small molecules or biologics. The process could involve additional genes known to affect juvenile to adult growth development.

  • Delays growth timing
  • Biomass processing is cheaper and faster with juvenile plants.
  • New animal feed could be easier to digest.
  • May improve disease resistance and yields
Applications and Industries

Genetically modified plants for bioenergy production and feed crops

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,617,558
Extending juvenility in grasses
The present invention relates to compositions and methods for modulating the juvenile to adult developmental growth transition in plants, such as grasses (e.g. maize). In particular, the invention provides methods for enhancing agronomic properties in plants by modulating expression of GRMZM2G362718, GRMZM2G096016, or homologs thereof. Modulation of expression of one or more additional genes which affect juvenile to adult developmental growth transition such as Glossy15 or Cg1, in conjunction with such modulation of expression is also contemplated. Nucleic acid constructs for down-regulation of GRMZM2G362718 and/or GRMZM2G096016 are also contemplated, as are transgenic plants and products produced there from, that demonstrate altered, such as extended juvenile growth, and display associated phenotypes such as enhanced yield, improved digestibility, and increased disease resistance. Plants described herein may be used, for example, as improved forage or feed crops or in biofuel production.
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Emily Bauer<>