Miscanthus adapts

June 6, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy finds that natural populations of Miscanthus are promising candidates as second-generation energy sources because they have genetic variation that may increase their stress tolerance.

Sustainable, large-scale bioenergy production requires domestication that develops crops capable of producing sufficiently high biomass on marginal and degraded land.

Yan and coauthors collected three species of Miscanthus from populations across China and grew these species at three separate sites with varying climates to evaluate their growth. The authors found that wild populations of Miscanthus have high levels of genetic variation and adaptation that could provide valuable resources for the development of second-generation energy crops.

According to Professor Sang of the Plant Biology Department at Michigan State University, the Director of the Key Laboratory of Plant Resources at the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, "The domestication of began approximately ten thousand years ago, partly in response to climate change following the last glacial maximum. Today another round of domestication for energy crops may be necessary for the sustainability of our society. In this study, we found that wild Miscanthus species native to China have the potential to become high-yield capable of growing on marginal land. The domestication of Miscanthus should be an equally exciting, but much shorter, journey in comparison to food crop domestication."

Researchers are encouraged by these findings because in order for bioenergy crops to not compete with food production they will have to be grown on land with poor soil quality and little irrigation. Miscanthus continues to have potential as a bioenergy crop because of its high biomass yield in regions that are colder and drier than its natural habitats.

Explore further: Miscanthus can meet US biofuels goal using less land than corn or switchgrass

Related Stories

Grasses have potential as alternate ethanol crop, study finds

November 1, 2010

Money may not grow on trees, but energy could grow in grass. Researchers at the University of Illinois have completed the first extensive geographic yield and economic analysis of potential bioenergy grass crops in the Midwestern ...

Study estimates land available for biofuel crops

January 10, 2011

Using detailed land analysis, Illinois researchers have found that biofuel crops cultivated on available land could produce up to half of the world's current fuel consumption – without affecting food crops or pastureland.

Agave fuels global excitement as a bioenergy crop

January 26, 2011

Scientists found that in 14 independent studies, the yields of two Agave species greatly exceeded the yields of other biofuel feedstocks, such as corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat. Additionally, even more productive Agave ...

Recommended for you

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.