National Bioenergy Center Sugar Platform Integration Project: Quarterly Update #11, April-June 2006
Variability. We recently completed work expanding our corn stover compositional database. This database now incorporates over 2100 new samples that will be used in continuing task work to understand the impact of stover compositional variability on process performance. Compositional diversity has been significantly broadened relative to the original set of samples reported on two years ago, nearly all of which were commercial hybrid varieties. The recently added samples, many of which are from
... of which are from noncommercial corn varieties and more exotic germplasm sources that significantly widens the range for total carbohydrates observed in corn stover. Also, the quality of compositional data was significantly improved by using a more accurate model to correlate near infrared spectroscopic information to wet chemistry-based sample composition. An analysis of available corn stover samples, which captures the great majority of range of compositional variability possible in stover, suggests that there is little potential for increasing the carbohydrate content of corn stover in commercial corn varieties using traditional breeding techniques. The next logical step is to understand the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to compositional variation. A better understanding of these factors should provide insight into how and to what extent stover compositional variability can be managed or controlled through genetic or agronomic approaches. We plan on collaborating with ARS and/or university agronomists who are capable of planning and carrying out well-designed field studies over a number of years.