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The activities leading to these results have received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement nr.  289159.


At present the production of miscanthus is dominated by one genotype, Miscanthus x giganteus. Large-scale implementation of biomass production from one single genotype carries considerable risks. Yield losses due to pests and diseases are more likely to occur when large areas are cultivated with genetically uniform plants. Risks also exist with respect to adverse weather events, as one single genotype cannot serve the production conditions in all climates and in all kind of land qualities.
In northern and eastern parts of Europe, the production of Miscanthus x giganteus is limited by low winter temperatures (soil frost of max. -3.5°C is tolerated by M. x gig.). To the south and in regions with very hot summers, water stress becomes the limiting factor. Therefore, it is necessary to extend the climatic and edaphic ranges in which miscanthus can be grown by extending the gene pool beyond Miscanthus x giganteus through M. sinensis, M. sinensis hybrids, M. sinensis synthetic population varieties, M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis x M. sacchariflorus hybrids.
Other objectives such as the reduction of input needs also can be improved by introducing genotypes with traits such as early vigor or enhanced nutrient and water use efficiency. Broadening the genetic base also opens new perspectives to cope with desired biomass quality for specific applications, such as combustion, insolation, thatching or injection moulding. Improved ripening of biomass allows the the harvesting of dry biomass and facilitates harvest logistics.

At present, the main use of miscanthus biomass is combustion. However, it is considered to have good potential for higher-value uses such as building material, bioplastics and chemical applications. There is little information available about the quality of biomass from different genotypes for the various uses, and no systematic approach to identifying the potential of miscanthus biomass for biorefinery is being taken. All biomass users have specific demands on the properties of biomass, including chemical, physical, mechanical and technical quality parameters.
As there are significant differences in quality parameters between the biomasses of different miscanthus genotypes, screeening and characterisation of germplasm in the OPTIMISC project is supposed to make a difference for future useres of miscanthus. Prospects of applications of miscanthus biomass and to the development of novel bioproducts will improve.

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