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Open Access Review

Bioenergy grass feedstock: current options and prospects for trait improvement using emerging genetic, genomic, and systems biology toolkits

Frank Alex Feltus* and Joshua P Vandenbrink

Author Affiliations

Department of Genetics & Biochemistry, Clemson University, 105 Collings Street. BRC #302C, Clemson, SC, 29634, USA

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2012, 5:80  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-5-80

Published: 2 November 2012

Abstract

For lignocellulosic bioenergy to become a viable alternative to traditional energy production methods, rapid increases in conversion efficiency and biomass yield must be achieved. Increased productivity in bioenergy production can be achieved through concomitant gains in processing efficiency as well as genetic improvement of feedstock that have the potential for bioenergy production at an industrial scale. The purpose of this review is to explore the genetic and genomic resource landscape for the improvement of a specific bioenergy feedstock group, the C4 bioenergy grasses. First, bioenergy grass feedstock traits relevant to biochemical conversion are examined. Then we outline genetic resources available bioenergy grasses for mapping bioenergy traits to DNA markers and genes. This is followed by a discussion of genomic tools and how they can be applied to understanding bioenergy grass feedstock trait genetic mechanisms leading to further improvement opportunities.

Keywords:
Bioenergy grass; Genetic improvement; Bioenergy traits