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Biotechnological Strategies to Improve Plant Biomass Quality for Bioethanol Production

Authors: Julián Mario Peña-Castro, Sandra del Mora, Lizeth Núñez-López, Blanca E. Barrera-Figueroa and Lorena Amaya-Delgado

Journal Title: BioMed Research International

ISSN: 2314-6133 (Print); 2314-6141 (Online)

Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation

The transition from an economy dependent on nonrenewable energy sources to one with higher diversity of renewables will not be a simple process. It requires an important research effort to adapt to the dynamics of the changing energy market, sort costly processes, and avoid overlapping with social interest markets such as food and livestock production. In this review, we analyze the desirable traits of raw plant materials for the bioethanol industry and the molecular biotechnology strategies employed to improve them, in either plants already under use (as maize) or proposed species (large grass families). The fundamentals of these applications can be found in the mechanisms by which plants have evolved different pathways to manage carbon resources for reproduction or survival in unexpected conditions. Here, we review the means by which this information can be used to manipulate these mechanisms for commercial uses, including saccharification improvement of starch and cellulose, decrease in cell wall recalcitrance through lignin modification, and increase in plant biomass.

Illustration Photo: Sugarcane plants, Hawaiian variety (credits: Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)

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