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Seminar “Genetic Strategies to Enhance Plant Biomass Yield and Quality- banana plantlets and Jatropha curcas” with Silvia Nietsche (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil) and Marlon Pereira (Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Brasil).

Abstract: The limitation of fossil fuel supply coupled with growing environmental concerns has driven the development of renewable energy industrial processes. Biofuels are a promising alternative to the world’s energy resource. Despite the positive effects associated with ethanol and biodiesel production, there is much criticism regarding the expansion of excessive areas for cultivation, while these lands could be used for food production. In this sense, there has been a growing interest in waste biomass of lignocellulosic composition and different types of  plant’s oil for biodiesel production. The recognition that Jatropha curcas L. oil can yield high quality biodiesel and  bio jet fuel has led to a great interest around the world. Among the available lignocellulosic biomass we highlight the residues from banana cultivation, with emphasis on the wide availability of pseudostem.  The results found in our studies were very informative and indicate the existence of medium to high variability in the evaluated full-sib families of J. curcas and is more than satisfactory and sufficient to support the marker-assisted selection process. Studies conducted in Brazil have shown a variation in biomass production among banana cultivars, with production of 14.2 t/ha of pseudostem and leaf dry matter for ‘Grande Naine’ and 19 t/ha for ‘Prata Catarina’. Currently with about 480,000 ha planted, we would have a potential of about 8 million tons of biomass for second generation ethanol production.