Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Willow Grant Could Speed Development of Promising Bioenergy Crop

Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Bookmark and Share
The commercialization of shrub willow as a bioenergy crop could be years closer, thanks to a $1.37 million grant awarded to Cornell researchers.

Funding will allow Cornell University Scientists 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.

"Determining the precise genetic mechanisms that produce hybrid vigor has been a scientific challenge for a century," said Smart.

Unlocking those mechanisms and then developing simple techniques for finding the genetic fingerprint for hybrid vigor in parent species could cut the time it takes to identify promising progeny, Smart said. And time is money; for farmers to adopt a new crop like shrub willow -- and for companies to accept the end product -- they need assurance of long-term profitability before taking on the associated higher risk.
"We think the results of this research will take years off the cycle time needed to find the best growing shrub willow hybrids and with consistent increases in yield each cycle, we will rapidly advance commercialization of this emerging bioenergy crop," Smart said.

Specifically, the researchers will examine gene expression patterns in shrub willow species hybrids.
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.

"Willow represents an important bioenergy crop for the northeastern part of the U.S., and the hybrids that are being developed by Cornell have the potential to provide higher yields of more suitable biomass and with more efficient use of resources such as water," Town said.

Improving shrub willow yields on marginal land is the main goal for Smart's willow breeding program, which began in 1998. Smart also participates in projects to demonstrate its use and value to farmers, biofuels companies, small businesses and municipalities. This includes the installation of a new boiler to heat two buildings at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station with willow biofuel produced on the Geneva campus.

"We're at a key juncture in New York, where we're deciding whether or not to extract more fossil fuels locally. At the same time, we need to explore renewable energy options that will stimulate the local economy and not contribute to global climate change," Smart said.

Smart hopes the grant will attract other researchers to study willow and ensure the long-term success of willow breeding.

"In addition to its practical value, the project can shed light on the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of hybrid vigor, which is of broad agronomic interest," said Town.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Pathogen Takes Control of Gypsy Moth Populations
A new fungal pathogen is killing gypsy moth caterpillars and crowding out communities of pathogens and parasites that previously destroyed these moth pests.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
$4.8M USAID Grant to Improve Food Security
To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the USAID has awarded Cornell a $4.8 million, three-year cooperative grant.
Friday, April 01, 2016
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Pest Attacks Can Lead to Bigger Crop Yields
New project receive three-year funding of $498,000 from USDA.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Algal Genes May Boost Efficiency, Yield in Staple Crops
New research has taken a step toward employing genes from blue-green algae to improve staple crop photosynthesis.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Study to Focus on Rice Genes, Yield and Climate
Cornell researchers received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study relationships among rice genetics, crop yields and climate.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
New Alfalfa Variety Resists Ravenous Local Pest
The new variety has some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle which has ravaged alfalfa fields.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops
Crops genetically modified with the bacterium Bt(Bacillus thuringiensis) produce proteins that kill pest insects.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Shark, Human Proteins are Surprisingly Similar
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Surprises Discovered in Decoded Kiwifruit Genome
DNA sequence of the kiwifruit has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Produce Perfect: Biotech Sweet Corn goes Unblemished
With the kernel-loving earworm, producing unblemished ears of sweet corn is difficult.
Monday, October 14, 2013
New Micro Water Sensor Can Aid Growers
Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Partnership Homes in on Regenerative Medicine
Scientists are to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Using Genes to Rescue Animal and Plants from Extinction
With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades researchers whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Scientific News
Genome of 6000-Year-Old Barley Sequenced
Researchers have successfully sequenced the genome of Chalcolithic barley grains for the first time.
Flowers Arrange Themselves for Bees
Study suggests plants can maximise their chances of reproduction by taking advantage of how insects move when they gather nectar.
Improving Wheat Crops in the Field
Agrii, RAGT and the University of Nottingham are developing better disease management and yield production in wheat crops using ASD FieldSpec Handheld 2 portable spectroradiometers.
Unravelling the Roots of Insect’s Waterproof Coating
Researchers have identified the genes that control cuticular lipid production in Drosophila, by performing an RNAi screen and using Direct Analysis in Real Time and GC-MS.
Structural link to Brain Cell Death in Alzheimer's
Study reveals multiple new leads for pursuing potential Alzheimer's treatments
Disentangling the Plant Microbiome
Study says breeding plants, to feed a growing global population, with more beneficial bacteria is far from simple.
Cellular Origin of Skin Cancer Identified
Scientists have identified ‘cell of origin’ in the most common form of skin cancer, and followed the process that leads to tumour growth.
How Plants Sense Electric Fields
An international group of researchers has identified the sensor plants use to sense electric fields. The voltage sensor discovery could contribute to the understanding of how the Ebola virus enters human cells.
Google and EI Partner for Next Generation of Coders
The Earlham Institute's open-source project for visualisation of biological data BioJS acts as mentor organisation for Google Summer of Code 2016.
DNA Production Facility Begins Operation
Scientists mark the opening of the UK's first fully automated DNA construction and modification facility.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!