Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 2007
Publication Date: July 20, 2008
Citation: Tew, T.L., Cobill, R.M. 2008. Genetic improvement of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) as an energy crop. In: Vermerris, W. (Ed.): Genetic improvement of bioenergy crops. NYC: Springer, pp. 249-272. Technical Abstract: Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) is a large-stature perennial grass that is cultivated in approximately 80 nations in tropical, semi-tropical, and subtropical regions of the world primarily for its ability to store high concentrations of sucrose in the stem. About 70% of the world’s sugar supply in the form of sucrose originates from sugarcane. Sugarcane is regarded as one of the most efficient crops in the world in converting sunlight energy into chemical energy that is usable as a fuel source. Recognition of sugarcane as an important energy crop was recently heightened by the advent of large-scale sugarcane-based ethanol production in Brazil. This chapter discusses the unique advantages of sugarcane as a renewable biofuel resource, and addresses the opportunities and challenges associated with energy cane breeding within already-existing sugarcane breeding programs. To better understand sugarcane as an energy crop and to facilitate the development of a well-focused and effective genetic improvement program, three distinctive energy cane types are presented herein. They include sugarcane (primarily sugar), Type I energy cane (sugar and fiber), and Type II energy cane (primarily fiber).