Brachypodium: A Model Temperate Grass


 – Purple False Brome – is a model grass species that is being exploited to provide new information on cereals and biofuel crops. is a small, erect, annual, self‐fertile grass with undemanding growth requirements and a rapid life cycle. has a small genome (∼350 Mbp) and the genomes of several accessions have been sequenced. It has no economic value but comparative genomic approaches have used the smaller genome to identify key cereal genes, which have been difficult to pin down in larger genomes. is readily transformable using ; mutated populations have been developed and genome editing has been demonstrated so that it will be possible to assess the function of any gene. As genome sequencing and assembly becomes ever easier, more scientists will work directly on crops rather than models but is likely to remain useful for functional genomics approaches because of its small size and rapid life cycle.

Key Concepts

  • Brachypodium distachyon is a model for grass and temperate grass species.

  • B. distachyon has one of the smallest genomes in the Gramineae and it has been sequenced and annotated.

  • The genome sequence has been used in comparative genomic approaches to help map key trait in larger genome cereal crops.

  • Several genetic resources have been developed to aid elucidating gene function including mutagenised populations.

  • B. distachyon has been used to give insights into cell wall construction, seed development and responses to environmental stress.

Keywords: Brachypodium distachyon ; grass model; comparative genomics; functional genomics; stress tolerance and seed development

Figure 1. The model grass species (a) growing in a field in Northern Spain. A 1‐euro coin is included to provide scale (b) grown under controlled environmental conditions for 3 months and removed from the soil before photography. (c) Detail of the racemose inflorescence in


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Further Reading

Brkljacic J , Grotewold E , Scholl R , et al. (2011) Brachypodium as a model for the grasses: today and the future. Plant Physiology 157 (1): 3–13.

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Mur, Luis AJ, Corke, Fiona MK, and Doonan, John H(Jan 2015) Brachypodium: A Model Temperate Grass. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023752]