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Abstract

Biomass utilization is increasingly considered as a practical way for sustainable energy supply and long-term environment care around the world. In concerns with food security in China, starch or sugar-based bioethanol and edible-oil-derived biodiesel are harshly restricted for large scale production. However, conversion of lignocellulosic residues from food crops is a potential alternative. Because of its recalcitrance, current biomass process is unacceptably expensive, but genetic breeding of energy crops is a promising solution. To meet the need, energy crops are defined with a high yield for both food and biofuel purposes. In this review, main grasses (rice, wheat, maize, sorghum and miscanthus) are evaluated for high biomass production, the principles are discussed on modification of plant cell walls that lead to efficient biomass degradation and conversion, and the related biotechnologies are proposed in terms of energy crop selection.