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Keywords:

  • sorghum;
  • genetic improvement;
  • bioenergy;
  • dedicated bioenergy crops

Abstract

The increasing cost of energy and finite oil and gas reserves has created a need to develop alternative fuels from renewable sources. Currently, the development of a renewable transportation fuel is ethanol based. Ethanol production is now sugar/starch based, but use of these carbohydrates is limited; they are also required as a food and feed source. The need to generate a large and sustainable supply of biomass to make biofuels generation from lignocellulose profitable will require the development of crops grown specifically for bioenergy production. There will be several different species used as dedicated bioenergy crops, and for several reasons; it is expected that sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) will be one of these species. Sorghum is a highly productive, drought-tolerant species with a history of improvement and production of lignocellulose, sugar and starch. Given this history and the existing genetic improvement infrastructure available for the species, it is logical to expect that sorghum hybrids for dedicated bioenergy production can be developed in the near-term future and will be grown and used for bioenergy production. © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd