Breeding progress and preparedness for mass-scale deployment of perennial lignocellulosic biomass crops switchgrass, miscanthus, willow and poplar

John Clifton-Brown, Antoine Harfouche, Michael D. Casler, Huw Dylan Jones, William J. Macalpine, Donal Murphy-Bokern, Lawrence B. Smart, Anneli Adler, Chris Ashman, Danny Awty-Carroll, Catherine Bastien, Sebastian Bopper, Vasile Botnari, Maryse Brancourt-Hulmel, Zhiyong Chen, Lindsay V. Clark, Salvatore Cosentino, Sue Dalton, Chris Davey, Oene DolstraIain Donnison, Richard Flavell, Joerg Greef, Steve Hanley, Astley Hastings, Magnus Hertzberg, Tsai Wen Hsu, Lin S. Huang, Antonella Iurato, Elaine Jensen, Xiaoli Jin, Uffe Jørgensen, Andreas Kiesel, Do Soon Kim, Jianxiu Liu, Jon P. McCalmont, Bernard G. McMahon, Michal Mos, Paul Robson, Erik J. Sacks, Anatolii Sandu, Giovanni Scalici, Kai Schwarz, Danilo Scordia, Reza Shafiei, Ian Shield, Gancho Slavov, Brian J. Stanton, Kankshita Swaminathan, Gail Taylor, Andres F. Torres, Luisa M. Trindade, Timothy Tschaplinski, Gerald A. Tuskan, Toshihiko Yamada, Chang Yeon Yu, Ronald S. Zalesny, Junqin Zong, Iris Lewandowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic improvement through breeding is one of the key approaches to increasing biomass supply. This paper documents the breeding progress to date for four perennial biomass crops (PBCs) that have high output–input energy ratios: namely Panicum virgatum (switchgrass), species of the genera Miscanthus (miscanthus), Salix (willow) and Populus (poplar). For each crop, we report on the size of germplasm collections, the efforts to date to phenotype and genotype, the diversity available for breeding and on the scale of breeding work as indicated by number of attempted crosses. We also report on the development of faster and more precise breeding using molecular breeding techniques. Poplar is the model tree for genetic studies and is furthest ahead in terms of biological knowledge and genetic resources. Linkage maps, transgenesis and genome editing methods are now being used in commercially focused poplar breeding. These are in development in switchgrass, miscanthus and willow generating large genetic and phenotypic data sets requiring concomitant efforts in informatics to create summaries that can be accessed and used by practical breeders. Cultivars of switchgrass and miscanthus can be seed-based synthetic populations, semihybrids or clones. Willow and poplar cultivars are commercially deployed as clones. At local and regional level, the most advanced cultivars in each crop are at technology readiness levels which could be scaled to planting rates of thousands of hectares per year in about 5 years with existing commercial developers. Investment in further development of better cultivars is subject to current market failure and the long breeding cycles. We conclude that sustained public investment in breeding plays a key role in delivering future mass-scale deployment of PBCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-151
Number of pages34
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Note. AFRI: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative in the United States; BEGIN: Biomass for Energy Genetic Improvement Network; BFF: Biomass For the Future; BRC‐CBI: Bioenergy Research Centre‐Centre for Bioenergy Innovation; BRDI: Biomass research development initiative; BSBEC: BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre; CABBI: Center for advanced bioenergy and bioproducts innovation in the United States; CN‐NSFC: Natural Science Foundation of China; DOE: Department of Energy in the United States; EBI: Energy Biosciences Institute; FIBRA: Fibre crops as sustainable source of biobased material for industrial products in Europe and China; FP7: Seventh Framework Programme in the EU; GIANT‐LINK: Genetic improvement of miscanthus as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy in the United Kingdom; GRACE: GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries; IPET: Korea Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; JGI: Joint Genome Institute; MBI: Mendel Biotechnology Inc.; MUST: Miscanthus UpScaling Technology; NEWBio: Northeast Woody/Warm‐season Biomass Consortium; NIFA: National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the United States; NovelTree: Novel tree breeding strategies; OPTIMA: Optimization of perennial grasses for biomass production in the Mediterranean area; OPTIMISC: Optimizing bioenergy production from Miscanthus; ORNL: Oak Ridge National Lab; PMBC: Plant Molecular Breeding Center of the Next Generation Biogreen Research Centers of the Republic of Korea; PPI: public–private investment; PPP: public–private partnership; RUE: radiation use efficiency; SkyCAP: Coordinated Agricultural Project; SLU: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; STT: SweTree Tech; SUNLIBB: Sustainable Liquid Biofuels from Biomass Biorefining; Tree4Future: Designing Trees for the future; USDA: US Department of Agriculture; WATBIO: Development of improved perennial nonfood biomass and bioproduct crops for water stressed environments. aISO Alpha‐2 letter country codes. bLocal currencies are used as at 2018: Euro, GBP (Great Britain Pound); USD (US Dollar). cEU is used for Europe.

Funding Information:
UK: The UK-led miscanthus research and breeding was mainly supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the BBSRC CSP strategic funding grant BB/CSP1730/1, Innovate UK/BBSRC ?MUST? BB/N016149/1, CERES Inc. and Terravesta Ltd. through the GIANT-LINK project (LK0863). Genomic selection and genomewide association study activities were supported by BBSRC grant BB/K01711X/1, the BBSRC strategic programme grant on Energy Grasses & Bio-refining BBS/E/W/10963A01. The UK-led willow R&D work reported here was supported by BBSRC (BBS/E/C/00005199, BBS/E/C/00005201, BB/G016216/1, BB/E006833/1, BB/G00580X/1 and BBS/E/C/000I0410), Defra (NF0424, NF0426) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (B/W6/00599/00/00). IT: The Brain Gain Program (Rientro dei cervelli) of the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research supports Antoine Harfouche. US: Contributions by Gerald Tuskan to this manuscript were supported by the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, a US Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science, under contract number DE-AC05-00OR22725. Willow breeding efforts at Cornell University have been supported by grants from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Contributions by the University of Illinois were supported primarily by the DOE Office of Science; Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER); grant nos. DE-SC0006634, DE-SC0012379 and DE-SC0018420 (Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation); and the Energy Biosciences Institute. EU: We would like to further acknowledge contributions from the EU projects ?OPTIMISC? FP7-289159 on miscanthus and ?WATBIO? FP7-311929 on poplar and miscanthus as well as ?GRACE? H2020-EU.3.2.6. Biobased Industries Joint Technology Initiative (BBI-JTI) Project ID 745012 on miscanthus.

Funding Information:
FP7 Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Biotechnology, Grant/Award Number: OPTIMISC/FP7-289159, WATBIO/FP7- 311929; H2020 Environment, Grant/ Award Number: GRACE-745012/Bio- Based Industries Joint Undertaking; Italian Ministry of Education, Brain Gain Program (Rientro dei cervelli); US Department of Energy, Grant/Award Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725, DESC0006634, DE-SC0012379, and DESC0018420; Department of Trade and Industry (UK), Grant/Award Number: B/ W6/00599/00/00; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Grant/Award Number: CSP1730/1, BB/ N016149/1, N016149, LK0863, K01711X/ 1, 10963A01, G016216/1, E006833/1, G00580X/1, 000I0410; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Grant/Award Number: LK0863, NF0424, NF0426; US Department of Agriculture; National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Funding Information:
US:>50 projects funded by US DOE and USDA NIFA

Funding Information:
UK: The UK‐led miscanthus research and breeding was mainly supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the BBSRC CSP strategic funding grant BB/CSP1730/1, Innovate UK/ BBSRC “MUST” BB/N016149/1, CERES Inc. and Ter-ravesta Ltd. through the GIANT‐LINK project (LK0863). Genomic selection and genomewide association study activities were supported by BBSRC grant BB/K01711X/1, the BBSRC strategic programme grant on Energy Grasses & Bio‐refining BBS/E/W/10963A01. The UK‐led willow R&D work reported here was supported by BBSRC (BBS/E/C/ 00005199, BBS/E/C/00005201, BB/G016216/1, BB/ E006833/1, BB/G00580X/1 and BBS/E/C/000I0410), Defra (NF0424, NF0426) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (B/W6/00599/00/00). IT: The Brain Gain Program (Rientro dei cervelli) of the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research supports Antoine Harfouche. US: Contributions by Gerald Tuskan to this manuscript were supported by the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, a US Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science, under contract number DE‐ AC05‐00OR22725. Willow breeding efforts at Cornell University have been supported by grants from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Contributions by the University of Illinois were supported primarily by the DOE Office of Science; Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER); grant nos. DE‐SC0006634, DE‐SC0012379 and DE‐SC0018420 (Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation); and the Energy Biosciences Institute. EU: We would like to further acknowledge contributions from the EU projects “OPTIMISC” FP7‐289159 on miscanthus and “WATBIO” FP7‐311929 on poplar and miscanthus as well as “GRACE” H2020‐EU.3.2.6. Biobased Industries Joint Technology Initiative (BBI‐JTI) Project ID 745012 on miscanthus.

Keywords

  • M. sacchariflorus
  • M. sinensis
  • Miscanthus
  • Panicum virgatum
  • Populus spp.
  • Salix spp.
  • bioenergy
  • feedstocks
  • lignocellulose
  • perennial biomass crop

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