Scientists in United States and Wales are working together in order to complete the very first genetic map of a biofuel crop named ‘miscanthus’. The plant is capable of growing up to 10 feet high and is native to South Asia and Africa. It is also called elephant grass and has the capability to absorb carbon dioxide, but is expensive to grown on a large scale. It is hoped by the researchers that after knowing more about its genetic differences the production will be easy and the commercial feasibility will be greater.
The roots of miscanthus are shallow and it bears the highest energy giving properties per hectare of any biofuel crop, which means the waste is not penetrated in soil contaminated on brownfield sites. So far mass production has not been possible, but for two decades, on a small scale for generating electricity it has been grown across Europe. It was the Californian based energy crop company, Ceres and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers) that were in collaboration. It is expected that available results will provide significant breakthrough in producing bio energy out of miscanthus. In future due to the break through development will be quick of the crop.
Genetically related plants collection was created by the team in Aberystwyth whereas DNA was then analyzed and sequenced in Ceres. Thousands of genetic differences called markers were noticed in the plant and blueprint of its ‘genetic alphabet’ was created to help in improving the crop.