USDA funds $1 million for miscanthus cultivar breeding

April 5, 2018 |

In Illinois, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced a grant for $1 million to support research led by a University of Illinois scientist. The research will address the need for better-adapted and higher-yielding biomass cultivars ready to plug into the biofuel supply chain in the United States.

Researchers at U of I, Alabama A&M University, and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will breed new miscanthus cultivars from an extensive repository of plant materials collected around the world. They will also field test already developed hybrids that show promise for both cold tolerance and high yields.

An important aspect of the work is the use of genomic selection tools, which will allow the team to make decisions about desired traits without having to grow plants to maturity. That process, on which traditional plant breeding is based, is extremely time-consuming and requires a lot of trial-and-error.

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