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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    <subfield code="a">bio-based economy</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">perennial lignocellulosic crops</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Marginal Lands to Grow Novel Bio-Based Crops: A Plant Breeding Perspective</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Marginal lands for Growing Industrial Crops: Turning a burden into an opportunity</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;The biomass demand to fuel a growing global bio-based economy is expected to&amp;nbsp;tremendously increase over the next decades, and projections indicate that dedicated&amp;nbsp;biomass crops will satisfy a large portion of it. The establishment of dedicated biomass&amp;nbsp;crops&amp;nbsp;raises huge concerns, as they can subtract land that is required for food&amp;nbsp;production, undermining food security. In this context,&amp;nbsp;perennial biomass crops suitable&amp;nbsp;for cultivation on marginal lands (MALs) raise attraction, as they could supply biomass&amp;nbsp;without&amp;nbsp;competing for land with food supply. While these crops withstand marginal&amp;nbsp;conditions well, their biomass yield and quality do not ensure acceptable economic&amp;nbsp;returns to farmers and cost-effective biomass conversion into bio-based products,&amp;nbsp;claiming genetic&amp;nbsp;improvement. However, this is constrained by the lack of genetic&amp;nbsp;resources for most of these crops. Here we first review the advantages of cultivating&amp;nbsp;novel perennial biomass crops on MALs, highlighting management practices to enhance&lt;br&gt;
the environmental and economic sustainability of these agro-systems. Subsequently, we&amp;nbsp;discuss the preeminent breeding targets to improve the yield and quality of the biomass&amp;nbsp;obtainable from these crops, as well as the stability of biomass production under&amp;nbsp;MALs conditions. These targets include crop architecture and phenology, efficiency in&amp;nbsp;the use of resources, lignocellulose composition in relation to bio-based applications,&amp;nbsp;and tolerance to abiotic stresses. For each target trait, we outline optimal ideotypes,&amp;nbsp;discuss the&amp;nbsp;available breeding resources in the context of (orphan) biomass crops,&amp;nbsp;and provide meaningful examples of genetic improvement. Finally, we discuss the&amp;nbsp;available tools to breed novel perennial biomass crops. These comprise conventional&amp;nbsp;breeding methods&amp;nbsp;(recurrent selection and hybridization), molecular techniques to&amp;nbsp;dissect the genetics of complex traits, speed up selection, and perform transgenic&amp;nbsp;modification (genetic mapping, QTL and GWAS analysis, marker-assisted selection,&amp;nbsp;genomic selection, transformation protocols), and novel high-throughput phenotyping&amp;nbsp;platforms. Furthermore, novel tools to transfer genetic knowledge from model to&amp;nbsp;orphan crops (i.e., universal markers) are also conceptualized, with the belief that their&amp;nbsp;development will enhance the efficiency of plant breeding in orphan biomass crops,&amp;nbsp;enabling a sustainable use of MALs for biomass provision.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">10.3389/fpls.2020.00227</subfield>
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