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Plant Biotechnol J. 2010 Apr;8(3):263-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2009.00491.x.

Sugarcane for bioenergy production: an assessment of yield and regulation of sucrose content.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, São Paulo, Brazil.


An increasing number of plant scientists, including breeders, agronomists, physiologists and molecular biologists, are working towards the development of new and improved energy crops. Research is increasingly focused on how to design crops specifically for bioenergy production and increased biomass generation for biofuel purposes. The most important biofuel to date is bioethanol produced from sugars (sucrose and starch). Second generation bioethanol is also being targeted for studies to allow the use of the cell wall (lignocellulose) as a source of carbon. If a crop is to be used for bioenergy production, the crop should be high yielding, fast growing, low lignin content and requiring relatively small energy inputs for its growth and harvest. Obtaining high yields in nonprime agricultural land is a key for energy crop development to allow sustainability and avoid competition with food production. Sugarcane is the most efficient bioenergy crop of tropical and subtropical regions, and biotechnological tools for the improvement of this crop are advancing rapidly. We focus this review on the studies of sugarcane genes associated with sucrose content, biomass and cell wall metabolism and the preliminary physiological characterization of cultivars that contrast for sugar and biomass yield.

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