Feedstock Development projects
Improving Energycane with Genes from Miscanthus
Sugarcane is a leading bioenergy crop, with Brazil being the largest producer of sugarcane (-l/3rd of World production) and ethanol derived from sugarcane (-25 billion liters in 2009). Modem sugarcane cultivars are derived from a relatively small set of founder genotypes, which has contributed to cultivar susceptibility to diseases and pests, and limited the variation for tolerance to abiotic stresses in elite germplasm. Efforts to improve sugarcane for disease and pest resistance, and stress tolerance have also relied primarily on introgression from S. spontaneum. Arguably, Miscanthus would be a better source of genes for improving sugarcane than S. spontaneum because the former is more broadly adapted to diverse environments, is highly resistant to pests and diseases, and is more genetically distant from S. offinarum. This project will develop new Miscanthus x Saccharum populations and identify methods for improving the efficiency of obtaining such intergeneric hybrids.
In this new 2014 project, a greenhouse experiment was initiated to determine how to best delay flowering in Miscanthus, so that it can flower synchronously with sugarcane. Additionally, an experiment to evaluate cold-tolerance in controlled environment chambers of dormant Miscanthus genotypes in pots has been set up, and this complements data from the field taken after the exceptionally cold winter of 2013-2014. Field data on overwintering ability for previously established mapping populations will facilitate mapping of QTL for this key adaptation trait.