The Popular Biofuel Option?

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Date: 20 February 2014

Time: 13:00

Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Plant Sciences

‘The Popular Biofuel Option?’

Speaker: Professor Gail Taylor, University of Southampton

Turning green plants into liquid biofuels is controversial, particularly if crops with food value are used and they displace land that could have a high ecosystem service value. This seminar will explore the potential of poplar trees as non-food ligno-cellulosic energy crops. We have developed a process-based model to predict biomass yield that is able to quantify yield potential out to 2050 and current research is quantifying impacts on other ecosystem services, including greenhouse gas balance, both for home-grown biomass and that sourced from overseas. The end-point for much of this research suggests that genetic potential must be realised if such trees are to be used sustainably in the future. Forward genetic approaches have identified QTL for important biomass and sustainability traits including tree water use efficiency and saccharification (glucose release) potential and using an illumina genotyping chip, developed following next generation DNA sequencing and SNP discovery of 50 black poplar individual trees, we have identified significant associations between biomass production and underlying genetic controls including transcription factors and the potential of these for future bioengineering approaches will be discussed.