Development of improved perennial non-food biomass and bioproduct crops for water-stressed environments


WATBIO is about discovering and implementing science-based solutions to address one of modern agriculture’s great challenges: delivering non-food biomass without competing with food production while protecting already stretched water resources. The project is 5-year translational research project, which consists of a 22-partner consortium, made up of 15 academic and seven private sector institutions. University of Southampton is the project coordinating institution, where Professor Gail Taylor leads the research work and is the WATBIO project coordinator.

The goal of WATBIO is to use the power of next generation sequencing to accelerate the breeding of non-food biomass crops for drought-stressed conditions while maintaining biomass productivity and quality in water scarce environments, which are unsuited for food crops. WATBIO focuses on the improvement of poplar, miscanthus and arundo which are perennial non-food crops with high biomass yield. For poplar and miscanthus the research will produce new germplasm with increased drought tolerance. For arundo, its genetic diversity will be assessed and increased, and breeding tools will be developed.

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