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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Sunflower as a potential biomass crop

item Hu, Jinguo

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2008
Publication Date: 3/15/2008
Citation: Hu, J. 2008. Sunflower as a potential biomass crop. Huazhong Agricultural University, International Symposium on BioEnergy and Biotechnology, March 16-20, 2008, Wuhan, China. p. 14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biomass resources are essential for bioenergy production. There are two major criteria for determining whether a crop is suitable for energy use. The first is the high dry matter yield per land unit and the second is the net gain in energy amount (the amount of energy produced from the biomass should be higher than the amount of energy required to grow the crop). Being one of the major oil crops cultivated worldwide, sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) has the potential to become a biomass crop. As a member of the Compositae family, sunflower is relatively easy to grow in a wide range of environments, from the equator to 55 N latitude. Young sunflower plants withstand mild freezing. Sunflower has a strong root system and shows a considerable level of drought tolerance. Sunflower expresses a higher photosynthesis rate than other C3 plants and grows rapidly to achieve a high biomass yield potential; 19 tonnes/ha has been obtained. In addition, there is a diverse sunflower germplasm collection within the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN; lists 3,838 Helianthus accessions, with 2,627 of these coming from H. annuus. Other countries, such as Russia, China, and Argentina, also maintain a large number of cultivated accessions. Useful genomics tools have been developed for the sunflower crop in recent years. Several genomic linkage maps of various DNA-based markers have been published and numerous genes and quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling important agronomic traits have been located on the maps. Over 280,000 ESTs (expressed sequence tags) have been deposited in the public databases and a total of 31,600 unigenes (approximately 75% of the predicted sunflower genes) could be assembled from the available sequences. The high density GeneChip microarray for massively parallel marker discovery, genotyping, and mapping is under development. These available resources and tools will enable us to efficiently shape the sunflower crop to meet our future needs as a competitive oil, confection, or biomass crop. The recent research progress on using sunflower biomass to produce biogas in Germany will be discussed.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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