Forest biotechnology advances to support global bioeconomy


The world is shifting to an innovation economy and forest biotechnology can play a major role in the bio-economy by providing farmers, producers, and consumers with tools that can better advance this transition. First-generation or conventional biofuels are primarily produced from food crops and are therefore limited in their ability to meet challenges for petroleum-product substitution and climate change mitigation, and to overcome the food-versus-fuel dilemma. In the longer term, forest lignocellulosic biomass will provide a unique renewable resource for large-scale production of bioenergy, biofuels and bio-products. These second-generation or advanced biofuels and bio-products have also the potential to avoid many of the issues facing the first-generation biofuels, particularly the competition concerning land and water used for food production. To expand the range of natural biological resources the rapidly evolving tools of biotechnology can ameliorate the conversion process, lower the conversion costs and also enhance target yield of forest biomass feedstock and the product of interest. Therefore, linking forest biotechnology with industrial biotechnology presents a promising approach to convert woody lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels and bio-products. Major advances and applications of forest biotechnology that are being achieved to competitively position forest biomass feedstocks with corn and other food crops are outlined. Finally, recommendations for future work are discussed.


Forest biotechnology; bio-economy; biofuels; bio-materials.

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