Biotech Updates

‘Tequila' Plants as Biofuel Crop

March 18, 2011

Agave is well-known for its role in the production of alcoholic drink tequila, however, experts say that it is also a potential biofuel crop, with better characteristics than other crops which are also used for food and feed. According to several studies, agave plants can produce high yields amidst extreme temperatures, droughts, and high levels of carbon dioxide, with less irrigation.

Field trials of Mexican agave varieties have started in Australia. According to one paper, two varieties (Agave mapisaga and Agave salmiana) produce high yields under intensive management, and far exceed corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat yields.

"Mexico has 80 million hectares of arid and semi-arid areas with no productive potential in which 5,600 million tons of dry biomass could be obtained from agave," said Arturo Velez, head of the Agave Project in Mexico. This would be enough to meet the United States' transport fuel needs.

Read the papers from the Global Change Biology issue on bioenergy at