Advancing bioenergy and biochemical research: This page brings together the academic publications from all aspects of the AHB research project.
Elorriaga, E., Klocko, A. L., Ma, C., & Strauss, S. H. (2018). Variation in mutation spectra among CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenized poplars. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 594. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00594.
In an effort to produce reliably contained transgenic trees, we used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to alter three genes expected to be required for normal flowering in poplar (genus Populus). We designed synthetic guide RNAs (sgRNAs) to target the poplar homolog of the floral meristem identity gene, LEAFY (LFY), and the two poplar orthologs of the floral organ identity gene AGAMOUS (AG).
Klocko, A. L., Lu, H., Magnuson, A., Brunner, A., Ma, C., & Strauss, S. H. (2018). Phenotypic expression and stability in a large-scale field study of genetically engineered poplars containing sexual containment transgenes. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6(100). https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2018.00100.
Genetic engineering (GE) has the potential to help meet demand for forest products and ecological services. However, high research and development costs, market restrictions, and regulatory obstacles to performing field tests have severely limited the extent and duration of field research. There is a notable paucity of field studies of flowering GE trees due to the time frame required and regulatory constraints. Here we summarize our findings from field testing over 3,300 GE poplar trees and 948 transformation events in a single, 3.6 hectare field trial for seven growing seasons; this trial appears to be the largest field-based scientific study of GE forest trees in the world.
Strauss, SH, Jones KN, Lu H, Petit JD, Klocko AL, Betts MG, Brosi BJ, Fletcher RJ, and Needham, MD. 2017. “Reproductive Modification in Forest Plantations: Impacts on Biodiversity and Society” New Phytologist 213:1000-1021.
We conducted in-depth reviews of ecological processes associated with reproductive tissues focusing on Eucalyptus, Pinus, Populus and Pseudotsuga – genera that represent diverse modes of pollination and seed dispersal. We also explored potential impacts of various forms of reproductive modification at stand and landscape levels, and means for mitigating impacts. We provide detailed suggestions for research to understand the biological and social dimensions of containment technologies, and consider the role of regulatory and market restrictions that obstruct necessary ecological and genetic research. Watch a video summary of this publication.
Lu, H., Klocko, A.L., Dow, M, Ma, C., Amarasinghe, V. and Strauss, S.H. 2016. “Low frequency of zinc-finger nuclease-induced mutagenesis in Populus” Molecular Breeding 36.
We tested four pairs of zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) as mutagenic agents against the LEAFY and AGAMOUS orthologs in poplar that are expected to be required for sexual fertility. Our results indicate a mutation rate of zero to 0.3 % per explant per allele, among the lowest reported for ZFN mutagenesis in plants. The combined effects of low recovery of transgenic plants, a modest mutation frequency, and much higher reported rates of directed mutation for other gene editing methods suggest that the efficient use of ZFNs in poplar requires further technical improvements.
Khan, Z., Rho, H., Luna, V., Firrincieli, A., Hung, S.H., Masciarelli, O., Kim, S.-H., and Doty, S.L. (2016). Growth enhancement and drought tolerance of hybrid poplar upon inoculation with endophyte consortia. Current Plant Biology 6:38-47.
With increasing effects of global climate change, there is a strong interest in developing biofuels from trees such as poplar (Populus sp.) that have high C sequestration rates and relatively low chemical inputs. Using plant-microbe symbiosis to maximize plant growth and increase host stress tolerance may play an important role in improving the economic viability and environmental sustainability of poplar as a feedstock.
Klocko, A.L., Brunner, A.M., Huang, J., Meilan, R., LU, H., Ma, C., Morel, A., Zhao, D., Ault, K., Dow, M., Howe, G., Shevcheko, O., and Strauss, S.H. (2016). Containment of transgenic trees by suppression of LEAFY. Nature Biotechnology 34: 918-922.
Field studies and commercial use of genetically engineered trees is limited because of concerns over transgene flow into wild or feral tree population. This study shows that RNA interference (RNAi) can be used to suppress the LEAFY gene that makes poplar and other plants incapable of producing pollen or seeds. The LEAFY gene would still be present, but RNAi would slow down the gene’s activity.
BUSBY, P.E., PEAY, K.G., and NEWCOMBE, G. (2016). Common foliar fungi of Populus trichocarpa modify Melampsora rust disease severity. New Phytologist 209: 1681–1692.
We tested the hypothesis that common foliar fungi of the model tree Populus trichocarpa influence the severity of disease caused by the tree’s major rust pathogen, Melampsora × columbiana. Our field-based, experimental and modeling results support the hypothesis that disease modification is an ecological function shared among common foliar fungi of P. trichocarpa.
CARTA, L. K., S. LI, A. M. SKANTAR, and NEWCOMBE, G. (2016). Morphological and molecular characterization of two Aphelenchoides endophytic in poplar leaves. Journal of Nematology 48:(1): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4859615/
Here, we characterize these two fungal-feeding nematodes microscopically and with two DNA markers for identification and phylogenetic analysis. Their potential ecological impact is also discussed.
Doty, S.L., Sher, A.W., Fleck, N.D., Khorasani, M., Bumgarner, R.B., Khan, Z., Ko, A.W.K., Kim, S.-H., and DeLuca, T.H. (2016). Variable Nitrogen Fixation in Wild Populus. PLoS One http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155979
The overall objective of this study was to assess N2-fixation in native riparian black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) taken from its natural setting. We report N2-fixation within some wild poplar samples and demonstrate the presence of diazotrophic bacteria in these plants, helping to explain the biology of poplar as a pioneer plant species.
Guerra, F.P., Richards, J.H., Fiehn, O., Famula, R., Stanton, B.J., Shuren, R., Sykes, R., Davis, M.F., Neale, D.B. (2016). Analysis of the genetic variation in growth, ecophysiology, and chemical and metabolomics composition of wood Populus trichocarpa provenances. Tree Genetics & Genomes 12:6.
Populus trichocarpa is a biological model and a candidate species for bioethanol production. Although intraspecific variation is recognized, knowledge about genetic variation underlying the properties of its lignocellulosic biomass is still incomplete. Genetic variation is fundamental for continuing genetic improvement. In this study, we carried out a comprehensive phenotypic characterization of this species, analyzing a suite of quantitative traits associated with growth performance and wood quality.
Strauss, S.H., Ma, C., Ault, K., and Klocko, A.L. (2016). Lessons from two decades of field trials with genetically modified tress in the USA: Biology and regulatory compliance. Biosafety of Transgenic Forest Trees.
We summarize the many field trials that we have conducted in the USA beginning in 1995 and continuing to this day. Under USDA APHIS federal regulatory notifications and permits, we have planted nearly 20,000 trees derived from approximately 100 different constructs in more than two dozen field experiments.
Strauss, S.H., Constanza, A., and Seguin, A. (2015). Genetically engineered trees: Paralysis from good intentions. Science 349: 794-795.
Intensive genetic modification is a longstanding practice in agriculture, and, for some species, in woody plant horticulture and forestry. Current regulatory systems for genetically engineered crops, in which recombinant DNA is used to asexually insert or modify DNA, were created decades ago with good intentions for caution and forethought. Likewise, forest certification systems were created to promote responsible forest management and sustainable practices. However, both systems are at odds with the need for rapid and innovative biotechnologies to help forests cope with growing pest epidemics and mounting abiotic stresses as a result of global travel and climate change.
BUSBY, P.E., RIDOUT, M., and NEWCOMBE, G. (2015). Fungal endophytes: modifiers of plant disease. Plant Molecular Biology 90: (doi:10.1007/s11103-015-0412-0).
We reviewed recent literature on fungal endophyte disease modification, and here report on several emergent themes: (1) Fungal endophyte effects on plant disease span the full spectrum from pathogen antagonism to pathogen facilitation, with pathogen antagonism most commonly reported. (2) Agricultural plant pathosystems are the focus of research on endophyte disease modification. (3) A taxonomically diverse group of fungal endophytes can influence plant disease severity. And (4) Fungal endophyte effects on plant disease severity are context-dependent.
Busby, P.E., Lamit, L., Keith, A.R., Newcombe, G., Gehring, C., Whitham, T.G., and Dirzo, R. (2015). Genetics-based interactions among plants, pathogens and herbivores define arthropod community structure. Ecology 96:7.
Plant resistance to pathogens or insect herbivores is common, but its potential for indirectly influencing plant-associated communities is poorly known. Here, we test whether pathogens’ indirect effects on arthropod communities and herbivory depend on plant resistance to pathogens and/or herbivores, and address the overarching interacting foundation species hypothesis that genetics-based interactions among a few highly interactive species can structure a much larger community. In a manipulative field experiment using replicated genotypes of two Populus species and their interspecific hybrids, we found that genetic variation in plant resistance to both pathogens and insect herbivores modulated the strength of pathogens’ indirect effects on arthropod communities and insect herbivory.
Busby, P.E., Newcombe, G., Dirzo, R., and Whitham, T.G. (2014). Differentiating genetic and environmental drivers of plant-pathogen community interactions. Journal of Ecology 102: 1300-1309.
Plant genotypic variation can shape associated arthropod and microbial communities locally, as has been demonstrated in controlled common garden experiments. However, the relative roles of plant genetics and the environment in defining communities at larger spatial scales are not well known. The environmental heterogeneity hypothesis maintains that plant genetic effects on associated communities diminish across the landscape as environmental variation predominates. Alternatively, the local adaptation hypothesis argues that plant genetic effects change across landscapes as a result of species interactions being locally adapted. Thus, very different mechanisms could produce similar patterns.
Klocko A., Meilan R., James R.R., Viswanath V., Ma C., Payne P., Miller L., Skinner J.S., Oppert B., Cardineau G.A., and Strauss S.H. (2014). Cry3Aa transgene expression reduces insect damage and improves growth in field-grown hybrid poplar. Can. J. For. Res. 44: 28–35.
The stability and value of transgenic pest resistance for promoting tree growth are poorly understood. These data are essential for determining if such trees could be beneficial to commercial growers in the face of substantial regulatory and marketing costs. We investigated growth and insect resistance in hybrid poplar expressing the cry3Aa transgene in two field trials.
Ostry, M., Ramstedt, M., Newcombe, G., and Steenackers, M. (2013). Diseases of Poplars and Willows. Chapter 8 in The Poplar and Willows Book. Edited by Jud Isebrands and Jim Richardson. Published by the International Poplar Commission of UN FAO.
Across their native and planted ranges, Populusand Salix species and hybrids are host to a wide array of microorganisms. Fortunately, only a relatively small number of these organisms are pathogens that cause economically damaging diseases (Ostry and McNabb, 1985). No single pathogen is equally important throughout the entire range of Populusand Salix, and many organisms are highly specific to only some species and hybrids (Newcombe, 1996; Newcombe et al., 2001a). Since poplars and willows are similar ecologically and closely related through evolution (Argus, 2010; Eckenwalder, 2010), there are many parallels among their collective pathogens. Many of the genera of pathogens that affect one also affect the other (Newcombe et al., 2010).
Bubsy, P.E., Newcombe, G., Dirzo, R., and Whitham, T.G. (2013). Genetic basis of pathogen community structure for foundation tree species in a common garden and in the wild. Journal of Ecology 101: 867-877.
Genetic variation within and among foundation plant species is known to affect arthropod, plant and soil microbial communities. We hypothesized that the same would be expected for pathogen communities, which have typically been studied only as individual pathogen species. In a common garden in Utah, USA, we first tested how genetic differences within and among Populus angustifolia, P. fremontii and their interspecific hybrid P. × hinckleyana affect a fungal leaf pathogen community. Next, we tested how Populus genetic differences at the level of species and hybrids affect fungal leaf pathogen communities in the wild, specifically in a natural Populus hybridization zone (13 river km) and throughout the larger Weber River watershed (150 river km).
Busby P., Zimmerman N., Weston D., Jawdy S., Houbraken J., Newcombe G. (2013), Leaf endophytes and host genotype in Populus affect severity of damage from the necrotrophic leaf pathogen, Drepanopeziza populi. Ecosphere. 4(10).
Fungal leaf endophytes—nonpathogenic microfungi that live within plant leaves—are ubiquitous in land plants. Leaf endophytes and host plant genotypes may interact to determine plant disease severity.
Klocko A., Stanton B., Van Oosten C., and Strauss SH. (2013) Green Revolution Plantations: Could Short Trees be a Big Thing? Information Systems for Biotechnology Report.
Raghavendra A., and Newcombe G. (2013). The contribution of foliar endophytes to quantitative resistance to Melampsora rust. New Phytologist. 197(3):909-918.
Foliar endophytes of Populus do not induce the hypersensitive response associated with major genes for resistance to Melampsora leaf rust. But they could contribute to the quantitative resistance that represents a second line of defense. Quantitative resistance is thought to be determined by suites of minor genes in both host and pathogen that are influenced by the abiotic environment. Here, we determined the relative importance to quantitative resistance of foliar endophytes, one element of the biotic environment.
Vining K., Contreras R., Ranik M., Strauss SH. (2012). Genetic Methods for Mitigating Invasiveness of Woody Ornamental Plants: Research Needs and Opportunities. HortScience. 47(9):1210-1216.
Because cultivation of exotic woody ornamental plants has led to establishment of a number of invasive species, there is considerable interest in breeding methods to reduce the propensity for spread. We review progress in conventional breeding and transgenic biotechnology approaches to producing sterile forms of ornamental woody plants.
Hörhammer, H., Dou, C., Gustafson, R., Suko, A., & Bura, R. (2018). Removal of non-structural components from poplar whole-tree chips to enhance hydrolysis and fermentation performance. Biotechnology for biofuels, 11(1), 222.
Whole-tree chips will be a likely feedstock for future biorefineries because of their low cost. Non-structural components (NSC), however, represent a significant part of whole-tree chips. The NSC can account for more than 10% of whole-tree poplar mass when the trees are grown in short rotation cycles. The influence of NSC, however, on the production of fuels and chemicals is not well known. In this study, we assessed the impact of NSC removal from poplar whole-tree chips on pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis yields, overall sugar recovery, and fermentation yield. In addition, we evaluated the economics of preprocessing as a new unit operation in the biorefinery.
Jan, O. and F.L.P. Resende; “Liquid hydrocarbon production via ethylene oligomerization over Ni-Hβ”, Fuel Processing Technology; 179, 269-276 (2018).
We carried out oligomerization of ethylene using nickel supported on an acidic zeolite β (Ni-Hβ) catalyst in a laboratory-scale packed bed reactor for the synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons in milliliter quantities. We evaluated the effect of several process variables (temperature, pressure, weight hourly space velocity (WHSV), and nickel loading) on the ethylene conversion, liquid hydrocarbon/coke yield, and oligomeric product selectivity.
Jan, O., K. Song, A. Dichiara, and F. L. P. Resende. 2018. Ethylene Oligomerization over Ni–Hβ Heterogeneous Catalysts. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 57(31): 10241-10250.
We report results for the oligomerization of ethylene in a continuous packed bed reactor loaded with Ni–Hβ. We performed a parametrized study of the effects of temperature (50–190 °C), ethylene partial pressure (8.5–25.6 bar), and weight hourly space velocity (WHSV, 2.0–5.5 h–1) on the ethylene conversion and product selectivity.
Dou, C., Chandler, D.S., Resende, F.L.P., Bura, R. (2017). Fast Pyrolysis of Short Rotation Coppice Poplar: An Investigation in Thermochemical Conversion of a Realistic Feedstock for the Biorefinery. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
This study investigated the conversion of 2-year-old first rotation poplar into bio-oil via fast pyrolysis. The impact of leaf removal was studied by comparing the yields and compositions of bio-oil from no-leaf coppice (NLC) and whole tree coppice (WTC).
Dou, C., Marcondes, W. F., Djaja, J. E., Bura, R., and Gustafson, R. (2017). Can we use short rotation coppice poplar for sugar based biorefinery feedstock? Bioconversion of 2-year-old poplar grown as short rotation coppice. Biotechnology for Biofuels 10:144.
If the coppice management regime is to be used, it is important that feedstock growers maximize their revenue from the initial harvest, but the biomass from 2-year-old trees is very heterogeneous, and includes components of leaf, bark, branch, and wood chip. This material is quite different than the samples that have been used in most poplar bioconversion research, which come from mature trees of short rotation forestry (SRF) plantations. This work evaluates bioconversion of 2-year-old poplar coppice and compares its performance to whitewood chips from 12-year-old poplar.
Ewanick, S, and Bura, R. (2016). A new approach to using dried hybrid poplar as a potential commodity feedstock for sugar production. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 4(8): 4378-4384.
Although desirable for implementing into a commodity feedstock supply system, dried biomass is known to be problematic for bioconversion via steam pretreatment. To bridge this gap, the effect of moisture content on hybrid poplar bioconversion was investigated. Fresh hybrid poplar chips were both oven- and air-dried and rehydrated by soaking in water prior to SO2-catalyzed steam explosion. Soaking in water was shown to improve hydrolysis yields while still maintaining high recovery of sugars. This technique could be an effective way to recover the maximum sugar from dried biomass, and is a promising means to fully utilize dried or partially dried feedstocks in future biorefineries.
Ehsanipour, M., Suko, A. V., & Bura, R. (2016). Fermentation of lignocellulosic sugars to acetic acid by Moorella thermoacetica. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, 1-10.
A systematic study of bioconversion of lignocellulosic sugars to acetic acid by Moorella thermoacetica (strain ATCC 39073) was conducted. Four different water-soluble fractions (hydrolysates) obtained after steam pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass were selected and fermented to acetic acid in batch fermentations.
Schmitt, E., Bura, R., Gustafson, R., and Ehsanipour, M. (2016). Kinetic modeling of Moorella thermoacetica growth on single and dual substrate systems. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering 39(10): 1567-1575.
Acetic acid is an important chemical raw material that can be produced directly from sugars in lignocellulosic biomass. Development of kinetic models that capture the bioconversion dynamics of multiple sugar systems will be critical to optimization and process control in future lignocellulosic biorefinery processes. In this work, a kinetic model was developed for the single- and dual-substrate conversion of xylose and glucose to acetic acid using the acetogen Moorella thermoacetica.
Morales-Vera, R., Bura, R., and Gustafson., R. (2016). Handling heterogeneous hybrid poplar particle sizes for sugar production. Biomass and Bioenergy 91: 126–133.
Five chip sizes of freshly harvested hybrid poplar, ranging from 0.2 × 0.2 cm to 2.0 × 1.5 cm, plus an equal mixture of all the particles, were used to determine the influence of initial particle size on sugar recovery after steam explosion pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. It was found that there is essentially no effect of particle size or particle size heterogeneity on sugar recovery. Steam pretreatment appears to be a robust method that can accommodate a wide range of particle sizes.
Vajzovic Suko, A., and Bura, R. (2016). Enhanced xylitol and ethanol yields by fermentation inhibitors in steam pretreated lignocellulosic biomass. Industrial Biotechnology 12(3): 187-194.
A systematic study was conducted on the effects of specific concentrations of fermentation inhibitors acetic acid, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF), furfurals, and phenolics on the fermentation of xylose to xylitol and hexoses to ethanol by Candida guilliermondii in water-soluble fractions (hydrolysates) from steam-pretreated sugarcane bagasse, hybrid poplar, switchgrass, mixed wood, and giant reed. Overall this study showed that fermentation inhibitors are not necessarily harmful compounds. At specific concentrations, acetic acid, furfural, 5-HMF, and phenolics might be called fermentation enhancers rather than inhibitors.
Dou, C., Ewanick, S., Bura, R., & Gustafson, R. (2016). Post-treatment mechanical refining as a method to improve overall sugar recovery of steam pretreated hybrid poplar. Bioresource technology, 207, 157-165.
This study investigates the effect of mechanical refining to improve the sugar yield from biomass processed under a wide range of steam pretreatment conditions.
Crawford, J.T., Shan, C..W., Budsberg, E., Morgan, M., Bura, R., Gustafson, R. (2016). Hydrocarbon bio-jet fuel from bioconversion of poplar biomass: techno-economic assessment.
Biotechnology for Biofuels 9:141.
Infrastructure compatible hydrocarbon biofuel proposed to qualify as renewable transportation fuel under the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) is evaluated. The process uses a hybrid poplar feedstock, which undergoes dilute acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis.
Budsberg, E., Crawford, J.T., Morgan, H., Chin, W.S., Bura, R., Gustafson, R. (2016). Hydrocarbon bio-jet fuel from bioconversion of poplar biomass: life cycle assessment. Biotechnology for Biofuels 9:170
Bio-jet fuels compatible with current aviation infrastructure are needed as an alternative to petroleum-based jet fuel to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Cradle to grave life cycle analysis is used to investigate the global warming potential and fossil fuel use of converting poplar biomass to drop-in bio-jet fuel via a novel bioconversion platform.
Morales-Vera, R., Bura, R., and Gustafson, R. (2015). Synergistic effects of mixing hybrid poplar and wheat straw biomass for bioconversion processes. Biotechnology for Biofuels 8:226.
Considering the seasonal availability of wheat straw and the year round availability of hybrid poplar in the Pacific Northwest, this study aims to determine the impact of mixing wheat straw and hybrid poplar biomass on the overall sugar production via steam pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification. Blending hybrid poplar and wheat straw resulted in more monomeric sugar recovery and less sugar degradation. This synergistic effect is attributable to interaction of hybrid poplar’s high acetic acid content and the presence of ash supplied by wheat straw.
Budsberg, E., Crawford, J., Gustafson, R., Bura, R., and Puettmann, M. (2015). Ethanologens vs. acetogens: Environmental impacts of two ethanol fermentation pathways. Biomass and Bioenergy 83: 25-31.
Bioconversion production of ethanol from cellulosic feedstock is generally proposed to use direct fermentation of sugars to ethanol. Another potential route for ethanol production is fermentation of sugars to acetic acid followed by hydrogenation to convert the acetic acid into ethanol.
Ewanick, S.M., W. Thompson, B. Marquardt, and R. Bura. (2013). Real-time understanding of lignocellulosic bioethanol fermentation by Raman spectroscopy. Biotechnology for Biofuels.
In this paper we show that glucose and ethanol in a lignocellulosic fermentation can be accurately monitored by a 785 nm Raman spectroscopy instrument and novel immersion probe, even in the presence of an elevated background thought to be caused by lignin-derived compounds. Chemometric techniques were used to reduce the background before generating calibration models for glucose and ethanol concentration. The models show very good correlation between the real-time Raman spectra and the offline HPLC validation.
Asah, Stanley T. and Nabin Baral. 2018. Technicalizing non-technical participatory social impact assessment of prospective cellulosic biorefineries: Psychometric quantification and implications. Applied Energy 232: 462-472.
Participatory social impact assessments (PSIAs) are most accurate reflections of social impacts. But, effective integration of PSIAs into Environmental Impact Assessments, decision-making and project implementation present drawbacks. Because of its qualitative content, PSIAs outcomes are termed non-technical—allegedly defying reliable and valid quantification, and consequently impeding determination of impact rankings that inform social investment priorities given limited mitigation and enhancement resources. The participatory fora typically used in PSIAs leads to inadequate representation and outcomes that reflect mostly the perspectives of those who can afford to attend. Social impact assessments are also criticized for lacking reliability. We present a mix methods approach for reliable and representative quantification of PSIAs of cellulosic biorefineries. We
conducted 35 structured stakeholder deliberative fora
Baral, N. 2018. What socio-demographic characteristics predict knowledge of biofuels. Energy Policy 122: 369-376.
The assessment of people’s knowledge on biofuels is sporadic mainly due to a lack of an objective knowledge scale. We conducted large-scale mail surveys to fill the gap and assess people’s knowledge of biofuels and the social-demographic characteristics related to this. We sent out mail surveys to 4733 valid addresses and received 1376 completed surveys.
Dou, C., Gustafson, R., Bura, R. (2018). Bridging the gap between feedstock growers and users: the study of a coppice poplar-based biorefinery. Biotechnology for Biofuels 11:77.
In the biofuel industry, land productivity is important to feedstock growers and conversion process product yield is important to the biorefinery. The crop productivity, however, may not positively correlate with bioconversion yield. We found that growing a high-productivity hybrid means the land owner would use 11–26% less land (which could be used for other crops) or collect $2.53–$3.46 million/year extra revenue from the surplus feedstock. On the other side, the biorefinery would receive 5–10% additional revenue using the low-productivity hybrid.
Baral, N. and Rabotyagov, S. 2017. How much are wood-based cellulosic biofuels worth in the Pacific Northwest? Ex-ante and ex-post analysis of local people’s willingness to pay. Forest Policy and Economics 83:99-106.
We conducted contingent valuation surveys of general public in the US states of Oregon and Washington to determine people’s willingness to pay (WTP) for wood-based cellulosic biofuels and the factors that influence their WTP decisions. We sent out mail surveys to 2828 valid mailing addresses between May and July of 2015 and received 757 completed surveys. The mean WTP amount was $0.19 ± $0.03/gal. (95% confidence interval: $0.17 to $0.21), which equates to a 6.4% price premium on top of the market price for gasoline. Logistic regression results showed that the offered bid price, knowledge on biofuels, age and religious affiliation of respondents were statistically significant predictors of WTP decisions.
Bandaru, V., Pei, Y., B.M. Jenkins. (2016). Impact of biases in gridded weather datasets on biomass estimates of short rotation woody cropping systems. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology: 233.
Short rotation woody crop (SRWC) systems continue to be investigated as energy crops for a range of energy products including liquid biofuels and electricity. To understand their market potential and economic viability, regional biomass yield and production estimates are used as primary inputs. Biomass is generally estimated using growth models which often utilize gridded weather datasets when implemented for regional simulations. With such models, the accuracy of weather data will affect the uncertainty of estimated biomass and subsequent bioenergy analyses. This study evaluates the biases in weather variables of commonly used high resolution gridded datasets including PRISM, Daymet, NARR, and NLDAS in comparison with observed weather at five flux tower stations. Further, impacts of inaccuracies in gridded data sources on biomass estimates of SRWC hybrid poplar was investigated at site and regional levels using a version of the 3-PG growth model modified to model production with multiple harvests through coppicing or periodic cutting of the trees with regrowth from the tree stump.
Yuanzhe, L., P.W. Tittmann, B.M. Jenkins. (2015). The impact of combined torrefaction and pelletization process on forestry biomass supply chain in California. Bioresource Technology.
The cost of supplying wood biomass from forestry operations in remote areas has been an obstacle to expansion of forest-based bioenergy in much of the western United States. Economies of scale in the production of liquid fuels from lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks favor large centralized biorefineries. Increasing transportation efficiency through torrefaction and pelletization at distributed satellite facilities may serve as a means to expand the utilization of forestry residuals in biofuel production. To investigate this potential, a mixed-integer linear program was developed to optimize the feedstock supply chain design with and without distributed pretreatment.
Budsberg, E., J. Crawford, R. Gustafson, R. Bura, and M. Puettmann. (2015). Ethanologens vs. acetogens: Environmental impacts of two ethanol fermentation pathways. Biomass and Bioenergy. 83: 23-31
Bandaru, V., Parker, N.C., Hart, Q.,Jenner, M., Yeo, B.L., Crawford, J.T., Li, Y., Tittmann, P., Rogers, L., Kaffka, S., Jenkins, B.M. (2015). Economic sustainability modeling provides decision support for assessing hybrid poplar-based biofuel development in California. California Agriculture.
Biofuels are expected to play a major role in meeting California’s long-term energy needs, but many factors influence the commercial viability of the various feedstock and production technology options. We developed a spatially explicit analytic framework that integrates models of plant growth, crop adoption, feedstock location, transportation logistics, economic impact, biorefinery costs and biorefinery energy use and emissions.
Hart, Q.J., Tittmann, P.W., Bandaru, V., & Jenkins, B.M. (2015). Modeling Poplar Growth as a Short Rotation Woody Crop for Biofuels in the Pacific Northwest. Biomass and Bioenergy.
Predicting the economic viability and environmental sustainability of a biofuels industry based on intensively cultivated short rotation woody crops (SRWC) requires spatial predictions of growth and yield under various environmental conditions and across large regions. The Physiological Principles in Predicting Growth (3PG) model was modified to evaluate the growth and yield of coppiced poplar (Populus spp). This included an additional biomass partitioning method and developing a sub-model which takes into account the impact of coppicing on post harvest regeneration, extending the applicability of the 3PG model to coppice management regimes.
Murphy C. and Parker N. (2014). Effects of Air Pollution Control Costs on U.S. Biofuel System Development. Environmental Science and Technology. 48(4) 2157-2164.
Air pollution emissions regulation can affect the location, size, and technology choice of potential biofuel production facilities. Difficulty in obtaining air pollutant emission permits and the cost of air pollution control devices have been cited by some fuel producers as barriers to development. This paper expands on the Geospatial Bioenergy Systems Model (GBSM) to evaluate the effect of air pollution control costs on the availability, cost, and distribution of U.S. biofuel production by subjecting potential facility locations within U.S. Clean Air Act nonattainment areas, which exceed thresholds for healthy air quality, to additional costs.
Prilepova O., Hart Q., Merz J., Parker N. C., Bandaru V., Jenkins B. (2014). Design of a GISbased Web Application for Simulating Biofuel Feedstock Yields. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 3(3), 929-941.
Short rotation woody crops (SRWC), such as hybrid poplar, have the potential to serve as a valuable feedstock for cellulosic biofuels. Spatial estimates of biomass yields under different management regimes are required for assisting stakeholders in making better management decisions and to establish viable woody cropping systems for biofuel production. To support stakeholders in their management decisions, we have developed a GIS-based web interface using a modified 3PG model for spatially predicting poplar biomass yields under different management and climate conditions in the U.S. Pacific Northwest region.
Parker, N. (2012). Spatially explicit projection of biofuel supply for meeting renewable fuel standard. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2287:72-79.
In this study, the author simulated the industry required to meet the 2018 mandate, with special attention to the geographic layout. The methodology built a series of scenarios by varying market and technology parameters that influence the design of the biofuel industry. The industry was then modeled with an integrated supply chain model that was spatially explicit. This model described the optimal behavior of a biofuel industry given the constraints of fuel demand, biofuel selling price, and feedstock supply. All the analyzed scenarios achieved the 2018 RFS2 mandate at wholesale fuel prices between $2.65 and $3.78/gal of gasoline-equivalent biofuels. Between $57.7 billion and $140.7 billion in capital investment was required to bring the fuels to market. The results were most sensitive to the level of technological optimism and the access to waste and residue biomass resources.
Grzyb, K., B. D. Hartman, and K. G. Field. (2018). Determining Essential Components of a College-level Bioenergy Curriculum in the United States Using the Delphi Technique. Journal of Sustainability Education 17.
In order to develop bioenergy into a viable industry capable of providing valuable energy and employment, there is an immediate need for a workforce prepared for the impending challenges of this emerging, interdisciplinary industry. To meet this need, it is necessary to identify and prioritize the topics that should be included in a college-level bioenergy curriculum. We implemented a three-round Delphi study to determine components of a college bioenergy curriculum in the US, by establishing consensus among a panel of American bioenergy experts.
Grzyb, K., Snyder, W., & Field, K.G. (2018) Learning to write like a scientist: A writing-intensive course for microbiology/health science students. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 19(1): 1-8.
Learning the tools and conventions of expert communication in the sciences provides multiple benefits to bioscience students, yet often these skills are not formally taught. To address this need, we designed a writing-intensive microbiology course on emerging infectious diseases to provide upper-division students with science-specific writing skills along with disciplinary course content.
Selwitz, JL, Ahring , B, Garcia-Perez, M , & Morrison, J. 2018. Engineering an Associate Degree-level STEM workforce Education Curriculum. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 42(6): 405-421.
Research was undertaken to design and evaluate an associate degree-level STEM workforce education program at the nexus of bioenergy/bioproducts, electrical systems and maintenance, and wastewater treatment plant operations. Component to the research, a program’s graduates were interviewed and professionals representing a spectrum of manufacturing/processing-type industries were surveyed. A curriculum development and assessment model emerged to help community and technical college faculty and administrators develop, evaluate, and revise associate degree-level STEM workforce education programs.
Grzyb, K., B. D. Hartman, & K. G. Field (2017). Comparing industry and academia priorities in bioenergy education: a Delphi study. International Journal of Sustainable Energy DOI: 10.1080/14786451.2017.1402769
Bioenergy is a rapidly growing subsector of the emerging bioeconomy, with the potential to create a substantial number of jobs. However, training programmes for these positions are limited, and there is currently a lack of research-based guidance for the creation of new programmes. This study employed a modified, two-round Delphi technique to generate a bioenergy education framework, utilising the expertise of professionals in the field.
Hart, N., K.L. Lesnik, and P.A. Townsend. 2018. Ethanol in the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication 710.
This factsheet provides background on ethanol as a transportation biofuel and discusses the role ethanol plays in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. This includes describing relevant policies, consumption, availability of ethanol blends, production facilities, feedstock sources, and economic and environmental impacts.
Gowan, C., Kar S., and Townsend, P. 2018. Growing Poplar Trees for Biofuels: What do landowners in Washington State have to say? Washington State University Extension Fact Sheet TB50E.
In 2014 and 2015, we surveyed 900 landowners in Washington State to better understand their perceptions and concerns about growing poplar as a feedstock for biofuels and bioproducts. Overall, we found that most Washington State landowners are not familiar with, or are not willing to grow, poplars. These landowners perceive several major challenges to poplar
production, such as difficulty converting back to traditional crops and making a profit. However, the landowners would prefer growing poplar to most other bioenergy crops.
Gowan, C, Kar S., and Townsend, P. 2018. Assessing Washington State Landowner Interest in and Concern Toward Growing Bioenergy Crops. Journal of Extension 56(2).
We surveyed landowners in Washington State to gain insight into their knowledge and interest regarding bioenergy crops and the importance of various cropping decision factors. The majority of landowners surveyed were not familiar with bioenergy crops and/or were unlikely to grow them. They indicated that profit, soil and land preservation, and water quality are all important factors to consider when making cropping decisions.
Gowan, C, Kar S., and Townsend, P. 2018. Landowners’ perceptions of and interest in bioenergy crops: Exploring challenges and opportunities for growing poplar for bioenergy. Biomass and Bioenergy. 110: 57-62.
We surveyed landowners in Washington State to gain insight on their knowledge of and interest in bioenergy crops, with a special focus on growing hybrid poplar for bioenergy. The responses indicate that the majority of landowners surveyed are not familiar with bioenergy crops and almost half of the respondents are not interested in growing a bioenergy crop. The most important consideration for growing any type of crop is profit, followed by soil preservation and land conservation.
Gowan, C., S.P. Kar, and P.A. Townsend. 2018. Washington State landowner data on cropping decision factors and perceptions of bioenergy crops. Data in Brief, 18, 76-79.
This article contains survey data on Washington State landowner perceptions of bioenergy crops. The survey data includes responses on interest in growing bioenergy crops, likelihood of growing bioenergy crops, and willingness to grow hybrid poplar specifically for bioenergy.
Townsend, Patricia A.; Haider, Nora M.; Asah, Stanley T.; Zobrist, Kevin W. (2016). Extension Professionals’ Perspectives on Supporting Feedstock Production for Biofuels: Concerns, Challenges, and Opportunities Journal of Extension. 54(6).
The development of successful bioenergy programs will depend on informed and prepared Extension professionals who are willing and equipped to provide technical support. A survey of Extension professionals in the Pacific Northwest revealed barriers to program development, including limits on time and knowledge and concerns about economic returns for biofuel crops.
Haider N., Kar S., Townsend P. A., and Zobrist K. W. (2015). Growing Green Energy: Extension’s Role in the Development of Advanced Biofuels. Journal of Extension. 53(1).
The development of advanced biofuels is expanding the possibilities for purpose-grown energy crops. Growers, producers, and other stakeholders will need a reliable source of information to assist with decision-making regarding renewable fuel supply chains. This review examines Extension’s role in the innovation of advanced biofuels by documenting and summarizing Extension work in existing biomass-derived energy programs. This review highlights strategies used by Extension programs that help make renewable energy innovations successful.
Townsend P.A., Kar S., and Miller R. (2013). Poplar (Populus spp.) Trees for Biofuel Production. eXtension.
Poplars show promise as a feedstock for biofuels. The trees are fast growing and able to produce large quantities of biomass in a short amount of time, easy to propagate and cultivate, and can grow in many regions.
Pest Fact Sheets
Eugene R. Hannon, R. Andrew Rodstrom, J.M. Chong, and John J. Brown. (2017). Carpenterworm Moth.
The objective of this pest sheet is to convey to professional pest managers a means to monitor moth populations and to suggest a male-trap- out strategy to control the population.
B. Carlson, .R. Rodstrom, J. Brown. (2017). Cottonwood Leaf Beetle.
Large moncultures of Populus spp. grown for pulp, non-structural timber, or biofuels are commonly attacked by Chrysomela scripta. Integrated pest management (IPM) professionals in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) need to be able to identify leaf beetle damage, prepare a monitoring program, and develop a management protocol to prevent or remedy an outbreak of this pest.
John J. Brown, and R. Andrew Rodstrom. (2017). Fall Webworm.
The pest sheet alerts integrated pest management (IPM) professionals to the potential for H. cunea to become problematic in their plantations and recommend means to monitor and control pest populations.
R. Andrew Rodstrom, and John J. Brown. (2017). Forest and Western Tent Caterpillars.
The objective of this pest sheet is to alert professional pest managers to potential threats these larvae pose to poplar biomass production. Management decisions should be based upon an accurate identification of the pest, knowledge of the pest’s life history, monitoring their population, and having a management strategy to control these pests.
Alejandro Del Pozo Valdivia, and John J. Brown. (2017). Gluphisia Septentrionis Walker.
Professional IPM practitioners can use this publication as a guide toward identifying Gluphisia, monitoring the population, and controlling Gluphisia outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest.
R. Andrew Rodstrom, and John J. Brown. (2017). Lace Bugs.
This pest sheet will alert professional integrated pestmanagement (IPM) personnel to the potential damage lace bugs can cause in hybrid poplars grown for biofuel west of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
John C. Neidbala Jr., R. Andrew Rodstrom, and John J. Brown. (2017). Pale Green Weevil.
This pest fact sheet’s objectives are (1) to alert growers that the pale green weevil is a potential reestablishment problem for propagation using cuttings, and (2) to suggest how to protect these new plantings from weevil attack.
John J. Brown, and R. Andrew Rodstrom. (2017). Poplar Satin Moth.
This publication contributes additional information regarding identification, life history, monitoring, and FSC-approved management strategies to control Leucoma salicis.
Eugene Hannon, and John J. Brown. (2017). Poplar-and-Willow Borer.
This pest sheet will help professionals identify the poplar-and-willow borer, avoid using infested cutting for propagation, use properly timed harvest, and recommend long-term management strategies to minimize losses to poplar-and-willow borer infestations.
Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia, and John J. Brown. (2017). Speckled Green Fruitworm.
The objective of this publication is to provide professional integrated pest management (IPM) managers with: a means to identify O. hibisci, a way of monitoring their numbers, and a means to control the population if necessary.
R. Andrew Rodstrom, and John J. Brown. (2017). Tenlined June Beetle.
Immature grubs of the tenlined June beetle are establishment pests of poplar. Cuttings used to propagate and establish hybrid poplars on land used previously for pasture or irrigated crops often fail due to grub feeding behavior.
Neal T. Kittelson, and John J. Brown. (2017). Western Poplar Clearwing Moth.
Professional IPM practitioners can use this publication as a guide toward control of this moth in the Pacific Northwest.