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Abstract

Bioenergy crops currently provide the only source of alternative energy with the potential to reduce the use of fossil transportation fuels in a way that is compatible with existing engine technology, including in developing countries. Even though bioenergy research is currently receiving considerable attention, many of the concepts are not new, but rather build on intense research efforts from 30 years ago. A major difference with that era is the availability of genomics tools that have the potential to accelerate crop improvement significantly. This review is focused on maize, sorghum and sugarcane as representatives of bioenergy grasses that produce sugar and/or lignocellulosic biomass. Examples of how genetic mapping, forward and reverse genetics, high-throughput expression profiling and comparative genomics can be used to unravel and improve bioenergy traits will be presented.