Submitted to: Plant Breeding
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 5, 2011
Publication Date: January 9, 2012
Citation: Scott, M.P., Byrnes, K., Blanco, M.H. 2012. Dry matter and relative sugar yield from enzymatic hydrolysis of maize whole plants and cobs. Plant Breeding. 131(2):286-292. Interpretive Summary: The vast majority of liquid fuel is derived from petroleum reserves with limited quantity. It is therefore important to find alternative, renewable sources of liquid fuels. The only renewable source of carbon available for this purpose is biomass from sources such as crop residues or dedicated biomass crops. Corn production results in a large amount of crop residue that could potentially be used as a feedstock for liquid fuel production and it may be possible to develop improved varieties for this purpose. In order to do this, it is important to understand the variability that exists for traits related to biofuel production. To this end, we evaluated maize varieties from the GEM program and compared them to commercial varieties developed for silage or grain production. We evaluated biomass yield and quality on whole plants and cobs. Our results indicate it should be possible to improve yield and quality simultaneously. We identified varieties suitable for use in breeding programs. This work will provide breeders with information and varieties that will be useful for improvement of maize for biofuel production.
Technical Abstract: The objective of this work was to determine the potential of germplasm from the GEM program for use as a biofuel feedstock, relative to commercial grain and silage hybrids. We carried out a replicated field trial and evaluated dry matter yield, moisture at harvest and sugar produced by enzymatic hydrolysis of stover and cobs. There were no significant correlations between any of the traits measured, suggesting it should be possible to improve yield with quality traits using a selection index. In spite of the lack of correlation between cob and stover quality, a brown midrib variety was in the top significance group for both traits, underscoring the impact of this mutation on digestibility of ligncellulosic biomass. Commercial varieties tended to have superior dry matter yield and several GEM lines ranked highly for sugar produced by hydrolysis of stover. Consideration of quality data would alter sample ranking, even if yield were weighted more heavily than quality.