Designing an Ideal Energy Crop: The Case for Sorghum bicolor
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Following the passage of the United States Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, significant progress has been made in replacing liquid fossil fuels with biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Many crops have been examined as potential energy crops and any ideal energy crop will meet at least three requirements. First, an ideal energy crop must generate a large amount of biomass. Second, a crop must be able to accumulate biomass from minimal inputs like water and nitrogen fertilizer. Third, an ideal energy crop will generate biomass with a composition that is ideal for refinement into biofuels. Bioenergy hybrid genotypes of Sorghum bicolor represent an ideal energy crop. These plants generate very large amounts of biomass over the course of an extremely long duration of vegetative growth. This accumulation of biomass is achieved without the requirement of additional fertilizer beyond a standard application level, and the biomass of S. bicolor has a composition that is ideal for generation of biofuels. This dissertation demonstrates the genetic yield potential of bioenergy hybrid S. bicolor. In addition, it is shown that S. bicolor is able to grow with very high nitrogen use efficiency throughout its long duration of vegetative growth. Many genetic loci are identified which modulate plant size traits in S. bicolor, including stem length, leaf area, and total biomass yield. Finally, the genetic position of Ma2, an important maturity locus, is identified. These results together make the case the S. bicolor is an ideal energy crop.
Olson, Sara 1984- (2012). Designing an Ideal Energy Crop: The Case for Sorghum bicolor. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from