Journal article Open Access

Marginal Lands to Grow Novel Bio-Based Crops: A Plant Breeding Perspective

Pancaldi, F.; Trindade, L.M.


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    "language": "eng", 
    "title": "Marginal Lands to Grow Novel Bio-Based Crops: A Plant Breeding Perspective", 
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    "journal": {
      "volume": "11", 
      "issue": "227", 
      "title": "frontiers on Plant Science"
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        "title": "Marginal lands for Growing Industrial Crops: Turning a burden into an opportunity", 
        "acronym": "MAGIC", 
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    "keywords": [
      "bio-based economy", 
      "bio-based crops", 
      "perennial lignocellulosic crops", 
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    "publication_date": "2020-03-03", 
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        "name": "Pancaldi, F."
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    "description": "<p>The biomass demand to fuel a growing global bio-based economy is expected to&nbsp;tremendously increase over the next decades, and projections indicate that dedicated&nbsp;biomass crops will satisfy a large portion of it. The establishment of dedicated biomass&nbsp;crops&nbsp;raises huge concerns, as they can subtract land that is required for food&nbsp;production, undermining food security. In this context,&nbsp;perennial biomass crops suitable&nbsp;for cultivation on marginal lands (MALs) raise attraction, as they could supply biomass&nbsp;without&nbsp;competing for land with food supply. While these crops withstand marginal&nbsp;conditions well, their biomass yield and quality do not ensure acceptable economic&nbsp;returns to farmers and cost-effective biomass conversion into bio-based products,&nbsp;claiming genetic&nbsp;improvement. However, this is constrained by the lack of genetic&nbsp;resources for most of these crops. Here we first review the advantages of cultivating&nbsp;novel perennial biomass crops on MALs, highlighting management practices to enhance<br>\nthe environmental and economic sustainability of these agro-systems. Subsequently, we&nbsp;discuss the preeminent breeding targets to improve the yield and quality of the biomass&nbsp;obtainable from these crops, as well as the stability of biomass production under&nbsp;MALs conditions. These targets include crop architecture and phenology, efficiency in&nbsp;the use of resources, lignocellulose composition in relation to bio-based applications,&nbsp;and tolerance to abiotic stresses. For each target trait, we outline optimal ideotypes,&nbsp;discuss the&nbsp;available breeding resources in the context of (orphan) biomass crops,&nbsp;and provide meaningful examples of genetic improvement. Finally, we discuss the&nbsp;available tools to breed novel perennial biomass crops. These comprise conventional&nbsp;breeding methods&nbsp;(recurrent selection and hybridization), molecular techniques to&nbsp;dissect the genetics of complex traits, speed up selection, and perform transgenic&nbsp;modification (genetic mapping, QTL and GWAS analysis, marker-assisted selection,&nbsp;genomic selection, transformation protocols), and novel high-throughput phenotyping&nbsp;platforms. Furthermore, novel tools to transfer genetic knowledge from model to&nbsp;orphan crops (i.e., universal markers) are also conceptualized, with the belief that their&nbsp;development will enhance the efficiency of plant breeding in orphan biomass crops,&nbsp;enabling a sustainable use of MALs for biomass provision.</p>"
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