New poplar species with higher biomass yield

DATE : 2012-10-11

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KFRI develops new poplar species with higher biomass yield


The Korea Forest Research Institute, an arm of the Korea Forest Service, has developed a new species of poplar tree that can generate larger amounts of biomass than ordinary poplars by more than 80 percent.

 The new poplar species, unveiled on October 9 in a biological engineering seminar in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, has three times the number of branches as the average poplar and can grow 15 days longer, thus producing higher levels of biomass energy.

Biomass is biological material from living or recently living organisms and a  renewable energy source that can be used directly, or converted to other energy products such as biofuel. As biomass plants absorb carbon dioxide, biomass energy has been largely seen as a shield against global warming, although controversy persists on burning biomass, which releases carbon and may encourage tree harvesting.

The research institute said the newly developed poplar produces 18 tons of biomass in two years, compared to the 10 tons yielded from an ordinary poplar. The new species was developed by changing gene promoters that determines genetic expression in the plant so that its growth-regulating genes could work more effectively.

“The new species has longer wood fibers and vessels than the existing poplars by 20 percent, which can be also advantageous to high-quality paper production,” Dr. Choi Young-im, involved in the research, said.

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