Energy Crops - On the way to a bio economy that is increasingly based on renewable energy sources, plants will play a much larger role in the future. Depending on the specific crop, biomass production is the final target of breeding – as demonstrated by switchgrass or maize kernel yield for starch-based bioethanol. Nevertheless, many intermediate questions regarding water usage efficiency, nutrient efficiency or the ability to grow on degraded soils will gain in importance.
For energy crops, quantification of growth and biomass production is essential, so it is important to select the best genes for specific soil condition and climates
Contribution of LemnaTec scanalyzer systems to energy crop optimisation
- Growth rate quantification: In order to identify genes or gene constellations that lead to high growth rates, it is essential to measure biomass non-destructively during the entire observation period. This is necessary as one-point measurements of a harvested biomass merely reflect the historic result of plant growth, but do not allow for a differentiation between germination times, growth rates and other influencing parameters. LemnaTec scanalyzer3D and scanalyzerHTS imaging systems provide the technology for a non-destructive image-based assessment of biomass development.
- Compatibility with degraded soils: While most crops are actually designed to produce the best yield under optimal nutrient conditions, much more research is required to screen for specific genes that will support plant growth even in degraded soils. Testing real soils and quantifying both shoot and root development under controlled soil humidity conditions is easily possible with LemnaTec scanalyzer3D imaging systems using VIS and NIR root and shoot imaging.
- Homogeneous growth conditions: Growing of one of the most efficient energy crops, sugar cane, involves a very high sensitivity to changes in light and temperature conditions. To allow the screening of different cultivars in controlled environments, it is important to keep the environmental conditions as comparable as possible. The plant randomisation of LemnaTec scanalyzer MovingField systems is the optimum solution, as it allows handling such plants in greenhouses, as well as assessing the quantitative influence of genetic and environmental factors on plant development.
Energy Crops, corn