ISU researchers transform pennycress into a crop

Though farmers consider pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) nothing more than a weed, Illinois State Professor of Genetics John Sedbrook is working to change their perspective—and the plant itself. Sedbrook and his student researchers in the School of Biological Sciences are genetically modifying pennycress as part of a multistate, multi-institutional effort funded by a five-year, $10 million USDA grant and a $13 million Department of Energy grant.

The researchers are attempting to transform the plant into a commercially grown cover crop that would be a boon to farmers and the environment. The harvested plant would be processed into biofuel, jet fuel, animal feed, and other products.