Improving Root Architecture in Energy Crops

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Grassroots Biotechnology, Inc.
Durham, NC 27701
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The USDA has established research on renewable energy as a high priority. Cellulosic ethanol from perennial grasses has the potential to become an important component of America's effort to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and alleviate the buildup of greenhouse gases. For energy crops to become viable biofuels, they must become cost-competitive with foreign oil and provide environmental benefits. This will require improvements in refining technologies to efficiently convert cellulose to ethanol, improvements in agronomic productivity, and maximal greenhouse gas reduction. GrassRoots Biotechnology is working to create enhanced energy crops by focusing on improved root architecture. In this project, we are focusing on two main components of root architecture: 1) greater deep root extension to increase drought resistance and carbon sequestration; 2) maintaining sufficient shallow root spread for nutrient acquisition from topsoil.