Optimization of wheat and oilseed rape straw co-products for bio-alcohol production

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


The purpose of this study is to evaluate wheat and oilseed rape straw from a range of varieties for key structural characteristics of the cell walls which determine both the potential yield of bio-alcohol from pentoses and hexoses, and the ease of degradation and fermentation. These characteristics will be related to the underlying genetic make-up of the feedstock. The latter will provide new opportunities for the future development of varieties with improved feedstock quality. The project involves three main research activities: (1) A survey of variation across wheat and oilseed rape germplasm (48 lines each of wheat and oilseed rape) and management regimes for the composition of straw for known determinants of processability for bio-alcohol production. (2) An understanding of the genetic basis for variation of processability traits will be developed and markers for the acceleration of subsequent breeding will be identified. (3) We will develop processability hypotheses and test them by the processing of materials through a pilot plant system. The lines selected for analysis represent the range of crop varieties presently available to farmers plus germplasm representing the genetic variation presently available to the breeding industry. The methods to be used for marker discovery, as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) are newly-developed and exploit “next generation” sequencing technology to provide both sequence polymorphism and transcript abundance data using the same dataset.


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