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Effect of Brassica napus cultivar on cellulosic ethanol yield

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Published copy (DOI)


  • Ian P Wood
  • Nikolaus Wellner
  • Adam Elliston
  • David R. Wilson
  • Ian Bancroft
  • Keith W. Waldron


Publication details

JournalBiotechnology for biofuels
DatePublished - 11 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish


Intraspecific variations in biomass composition are likely to influence their suitability for biorefining. This may be particularly important in species such as Brassica napus, which contain many different crop types bred for different purposes. Here, straw derived from 17 B. napus cultivars, of varying crop types, were steam exploded, saccharified and fermented to establish differences in biomass composition relevant to cellulosic ethanol production.

Despite being grown and processed in the same manner, straw from the various cultivars produced different saccharification and fermentation yields after processing. Fermentation inhibitor abundances released by steam explosion also varied between genotypes. Cultivars with glucan-rich straw did not necessarily produce higher saccharification or ethanol yields after processing. Instead, the compositions of non-cellulosic components were more reliable indicators of substrate quality. The abundance of pectins and arabinogalactans had the greatest influence on saccharification efficiency between straw genotypes.

In dicotyledonous species, such as B. napus, variations in the abundance of pectins between crop cultivars are likely to influence processing efficiency for bioethanol production. Knowledge of these genotypic variants provides targets for plant breeding and could aid in the development of improved cellulase cocktails.

Keywords: Bioethanol; Biomass saccharification; Crop cultivars; Cultivar variation; Dicot; Dicotyledonous; Oilseed rape; Fermentation; Pretreatment; Rapeseed straw

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