Purdue University, along with IBM Research and the University of Queensland, are focused on accelerating energy crop development in sorghum for the production of renewable transportation fuels. The team is developing an automated, high-throughput field phenotyping system composed of airborne and ground-based mobile platforms fitted with a variety of sensor technologies. When fully operational, these platforms will quickly and accurately measure key sorghum characteristics related to plant growth, development, and overall productivity. This acquired data, when coupled with advanced analysis and visualization tools along with robust techniques from biotechnology, will be used to identify genes associated with superior biofuel traits. These genes will then be used to develop sorghum plants with improved biofuel output.  These innovations will accelerate the annual yield gains of traditional plant breeding and support the discovery of new crop traits that improve water productivity and nutrient use efficiency.  Such plants are likely to have a positive impact on the security, economy, and environment of the United States.

SECURITY IMPACT: Improved biofuel crops could lead to increased production of domestic biofuels, thereby reducing dependence on foreign sources of transportation fuels.

ECONOMIC IMPACT: Advanced crop breeding techniques could lower the cost of developing high-yielding, high-quality crop varieties used for biofuel production and other applications.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Increased use of biofuels could significantly reduce CO2 emissions from various forms of transportation, and improved varieties of biofuel crops could use fewer resources and be more stress tolerant.


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