Grant to Study Willow as Promising Bioenergy Crop
by Cornell University (R&D Mag) The commercialization of shrub willow as a bioenergy crop could be years closer, thanks to a $1.37 million grant that will allow Cornell researchers to take advantage of the newly mapped shrub willow genome to study hybrid vigor and yield.
Larry Smart, associate professor of horticulture, has partnered with Christopher D. Town, professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Md., to study the genetics of superior growth in hybrids of shrub willow, a fast-growing, perennial cool-climate woody plant.
… The grant is part of a $41 million investment by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in research to improve efficiency and innovation in biofuel production and feedstocks. It is the first project to take advantage of the recently mapped shrub willow genome, the product of a three-year DOE-funded endeavor by Smart’s lab, JCVI and several DOE national labs.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets estimates there are more than 1 million acres of poorly drained and otherwise underutilized land in New York alone. Using this land to grow shrub willow could create a new regional cash crop. And unlike corn or sugarcane, shrub willow does not need the more fertile soil used for the production of fruit, vegetables or livestock feed. It also needs less fertilizer and other inputs to thrive. READ MORE and MORE (CleanTechnica.com)