‘Keep off the grass’: The biofuel that could help us achieve net zero

The Miscanthus genus of grasses, commonly used to add movement and texture to gardens, could quickly become the first choice for biofuel production. A new study shows these grasses can be grown in lower agricultural grade conditions — such as marginal land — due to their remarkable resilience and photosynthetic capacity at low temperatures.

Miscanthus is a promising biofuel thanks to its high biomass yield and low input requirements, which means it can adapt to a wide range of climate zones and land types. It is seen as a viable commercial option for farmers but yields can come under threat from insufficient or excessive water supply, such as increasing winter floods or summer heat waves.

With very little known about its productivity in flooded and moisture-saturated soil conditions, researchers at the Earlham Institute in Norwich wanted to understand the differences in water-stress tolerance among Miscanthus species to guide genomics-assisted crop breeding. Continue reading