In a free public seminar at 3:30 PM on April 24, in room 1115 of the Wisconsin Energy Institute, UW–Madison associate professor of agronomy Natalia de Leon will give a talk on improving bioenergy crops through breeding and phenotype analysis.
Maize is an important source of biomass for biofuel production and a relevant grass model species for other dedicated biofuel species. The goal of our project is to dissect the genetic architecture of naturally occurring phenotypic variation for non-grain biomass traits that contribute to sustainable increases in biomass productivity and reductions in recalcitrance for biofuel production. We have evaluated cell wall bound glucose and pentose release and anatomical and morphological characteristics of large collections of diverse maize genotypes and have identified natural alleles of genes that are promising candidates to change biomass digestibility and overall plant recalcitrance. This presentation will provide a summary of the main findings from our research and a perspective on the relevance of improved plant varieties for the production of biomass based bioenergy.