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Crop Biotech Update

Global Team of Experts Reinventing Sugarcane for More Applications

March 20, 2019

Gene editing of sugarcane for renewable energy and bio-plastics could sustain the industry in the face of falling global demand for sugar.

Professor Robert Henry from Queenslands Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) of the University of Queensland is using gene editing to develop sugarcane to effectively produce biofuels and bioplastics. Together with a global team of experts and as part of a project with US Joint Genome Institute, Prof. Henry is sequencing the sugarcane genome. Full genome sequence is expected to be decoded by 2020.

"Having sugar's genetic template will allow us to look at growing sugarcane as a biofuel and a source of 100 percent recyclable bioplastic, making it a substitute for petroleum in the production of countless items from cosmetics to car parts," he said. "It's about reinventing sugarcane as a crop with a wider range of end uses, and sugarcane is ideal for renewables because it is fast-growing with abundant biomass," he added.

Read more from the University of Queensland.