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Investment goes into new bioenergy crop research

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A $1.37 million (€1.1 million) grant is set to allow researchers to study and potentially develop shrub willow as a bioenergy crop.

Associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University Larry Smart and professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute will partner to study the genetics of hybrid shrub willow, itself a cool-climate, perennial woody plant.

‘Determining the precise genetic mechanisms that produce hybrid vigour has been a scientific challenge for a century. We think the results of this research will take years off the cycle time needed to find the best growing shrub willow hybrids and, with consistent increases in yield each cycle, we will rapidly advance commercialisation of this emerging bioenergy crop,’ Smart was quoted as saying.

The grant is part of the $41 million investment by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture into research to improve efficiency and innovation in biofuel production and feedstocks.