There is increasing urgency to develop and deploy sustainable sources of energy to reduce our global dependency on finite, high-carbon fossil fuels. Lignocellulosic feedstocks, used in power and liquid fuel generation, are valuable sources of non-food plant biomass. They are cultivated with minimal inputs on marginal or degraded lands to prevent competition with arable agriculture and offer significant potential for sustainable intensification (the improvement of yield without the necessity for additional inputs) through advanced molecular breeding. This article explores progress made in next generation sequencing, advanced genotyping, association genetics, and genetic modification in second generation bioenergy production. Using poplar as an exemplar where most progress has been made, a suite of target traits is also identified giving insight into possible routes for crop improvement and deployment in the immediate future.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.