|DA SILVA, J.A.G.|
Submitted to: Compendium of Transgenic Crop Plants
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/24/2007
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Since the first successful report of transgenic sugarcane less than 20 years ago, this technology has advanced rapidly and been adopted by sugar industries and research organizations worldwide. Research into a range of input traits such as pest and disease resistance, sugar quality, and shoot architecture, and output traits such as higher sugar levels, biopolymers, pharmaceuticals and bulk proteins are ongoing. The future looks very bright for sugarcane, as market forces drive the development of the bioeconomy, creating opportunities for sugar industry diversification and new partnerships with other global and local industries. A combination of factors, including but not limited to, global warming, instability in the Middle East, concern over long term oil supplies, and the industrialization of China and India, have caused the world to look for alternatives to petroleum for fuel, energy and fine chemicals. Governments have made plans, drawn up roadmaps and set priorities for R&D funding to create ways to shift from a disproportional dependence on the nonrenewable resource petroleum. They are creating new industries and whole new economies based on renewable sources. The sugar derived from lignocellulosic biomass is going to be the renewable feedstock for the bioeconomy. The infrastructure is already being developed. Biorefineries are being constructed all over the U.S., Europe and in Brazil. Ethanol and a range of biopolymers are being produced in these biorefineries. In the US, maize is the feedstock in Brazil it is sugarcane. These nations all have R&D programs underway to switch over to biomass. Developing new cultivars of sugarcane that will produce more tonnage, use less water and fertilizer, that will not fall down in a storm, can tolerate floods or drought, grow in the heat or the cold, are resistant to pests and diseases, can tolerate salt, can fight off weeds, and supply the majority of the world’s needs for sucrose, and other sugars, bioplastics and a host of other fine chemicals, reduce greenhouse gasses and clean up the environment is going to require considerable genetic manipulation. Systems biotechnology will help in the design strategies to manipulate the metabolic pathways of sugarcane. However, the ability to transform sugarcane with genes and/or metabolic pathways will be instrumental in helping sugarcane industries become drivers of the bioeconomy.