Water-Wise Biofuel Crop Study to Alter Plants Metabolic, Photosynthesis Process
(Phys.Org) Putting the water-use-efficient and turbo-charged photosynthesis from plants such as agave into woody biomass plants such as poplar can hedge against predicted long-term increases in temperatures and reduced precipitation. It can also provide dedicated energy crops suitable for establishment on marginal land as a source of renewable biomass.
A five-year, multi-institutional $14.3 million United States Department of Energy grant to explore the genetic mechanisms of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) and drought tolerance in desert-adapted plants was awarded to a team of researchers including John Cushman, a biochemistry professor at the University of Nevada, Reno; Xiaohan Yang at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); James Hartwell at the University of Liverpool, UK; and Anne Borland at Newcastle University, UK and ORNL. They aim to apply this knowledge to biofuel crops. The team will develop novel technologies to redesign bioenergy crops to grow on economically marginal agricultural lands and produce yields of biomass that can readily be converted to biofuels. The development of water-use efficient, fast-growing trees such as poplar for such sites will also help reduce competition with food crops for usable farmland.
…”We will introduce changes that enable poplar to take up carbon dioxide at night and subsequently process this carbon during the day while the leaf pores remain closed,” Borland said. “If successful, our research could lead to poplar that requires up to 80 percent less water for biomass production and consequently will be able to grow in more marginal habitats. In the longer term, the technology has the potential to help tackle food security by maintaining the productivity of food crops in the drier and warmer world that climatologists predict for the next 60 years.” READ MORE and MORE (DomesticFuel.com