Expression analysis and identifying candidate genes for wood formation in desert sunflower, Helianthus argophyllus
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Biofuel production is an increasingly important area of research as fossil fuels are becoming scarcer and climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels threatens the environmental status quo. The common sunflower (Helianthus annus) is a source of seed oil that may be used in biodiesel fuels. A relative, the silver-leaf sunflower (Helianthus argophyllus), is a wood-producing desert species that has shown potential for biomass production. Gene expression profiling with microarray and the use of laser microscopy dissection to specifically isolate xylem and phloem have shown have pointed to particular proteins playing important regulatory roles in wood formation as well as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin biosynthesis.