Miscanthus genome will "fuel" advances

miscanthusI am still digesting (so to speak) the conference I went to the last couple days at JGI. The thrust of the conference was the sequencing and study of genomes (both biomass fuelstock and bacteria/fungus digesters :)) to help create a liquid fuel source for our energy needs. I found it to be a fascinating conference and will definitely write more about it early next week.

For now, I’d like to point you to the work being done on the Miscanthus genome. This is a fascinating plant and possibility for a fuel source. It’s more productive than Switchgrass (and corn and sugar), it has no known diseases or pests (though that will change when/if it becomes a major crop), it is perennial needing much less fertilizer/pesticide input, it grows by rhizomes and sequesters carbon in the ground, it would take much less land to supply liquid fuel needs, it is drought resistant and it can cure cancer. Ok, so the last is not true. Yet, it is a very promising plant. The genome is being sequenced to help scientists and growers determine ways to domesticate it better and to solve the “big” problem… the expense of converting the cellulose to fuel (which is also the topic of metagenomic and genomic research on bacteria at JGI).

2 thoughts on “Miscanthus genome will "fuel" advances

  1. Craig Patterson

    Great article. Here’s an update. Several firms have begun to commercialize giant miscanthus in the US. This after all the news out of Illinois about it. This should allow easier, more cost-effective, and quality controlled growing. The notable one I’ve run across is SunBelt Biofuels (http://www.sunbeltbiofuelsllc.com) They’ve branded a high-yielding cultivar from Mississippi State University. 25 tons per acre is the claimed yield, but all yield numbers I’ve seen for miscanthus blow corn and even switchgrass out of the water.

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