The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC): Perennial Bioenergy Crops Programme

Rothamsted Research

In the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) Perennial Bioenergy Crops Programme, we will bring together leading experts in plant biology, crop breeding, genomics, biochemistry, biomathematics and bioenergy to over come limitations [in accessing energy from crops] and thus underpin the improvements needed in willows and Miscanthus to develop biofuels from plant lignocellulose. Our focus will be on: (1) Optimising biomass yield. We will investigate ways of capturing more energy by developing leaf canopies earlier and extending the growing season and by improving the canopy architecture and we will investigate how carbon is partitioned into different parts of the plant e.g. shoots, roots, organs, tissues, cells and cell walls. (2) Optimising the biomass composition (specifically the accessibility of carbon in cell walls) for processing to biofuels. This will be done by first improving our understanding of biomass composition, how it varies naturally in Miscanthus and willow and how this variation influences the processibility of the biomass. We will also use gene discovery techniques to identify genes that affect cell wall composition and accessibility of the carbon.