"Using biotechnological methods to breed Hungarian energy willow species with large biomass potential"
AGRÁR-BÉTA Mezőgazdasági Kft. (AGRÁR-BÉTA Agricultural Ltd., Birkamajor, 7200 Dombóvár, Hungary),
MTA Szegedi Biológiai Kutatóközpont (Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), Biological Research Centre, 62 Temesvári krt., 6726 Szeged, Hungary)
PROFIKOMP KÖRNYEZETTECHNIKA Környezetvédelmi, Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató Zártkörűen Működő Részvénytársaság (PROFIKOMP ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES Environmental, Trade and Services Private Ltd., 107 Perczel Mór utca, 2100 Gödöllő, Hungary)
Project identification code : GOP-1.1.1-11-2012-0365
Total budget: 556 445 465 HUF
Amount of funding: 378 239 286 HUF
Funding rate: 67.9742%
Start of project: 01.06. 2013
End of project: 30.09.2015
From among renewable energy sources short-rotation woody energy crops have major importance in satisfying continuously growing energy demand. Agrár-Béta Agricultural Ltd. is one of the most dynamically growing domestically-owned energy companies in Hungary that has a stake in establishing energy willow plantations and making energy willow based energy production more secure, efficient and economical. The choice of bred energy willow is justified by the fact that this species has an outstanding yield and can be used to produce a high amount energy. Furthermore, conditions in Hungary are excellent for its production.
The current project is implemented by the consortium of Agrár-Béta Ltd, Profikomp Ltd and HAS Biological Research Centre. The objective is the implementation of a complex innovation project through the optimization of agronomic developments intended to increase the yield of energy willow and the genetic background defining its energy yield.
In the framework of the project Agrár-Béta Ltd has established several plantations using various willow genotypes (Express, Inger and Tordis), and has elaborated agronomic and plant protection operations. Furthermore, in large plot experiments it will evaluate the various technologies suggested by the other partners with the intention of stimulating biomass yield. During the establishment of experimental energy plantations Profikomp Ltd has participated in the selection of locations for plantations, has conducted detailed habitat (soil, microclimate) studies and habitat homogenization. In order for energy willow production to be sustainable it will also elaborate a soil nutrient supply system.
HAS Biological Research Centre has tested various growth promoting substances the use of which will result in the increase of biomass yield if shoots are treated prior to planting. In order to be able to evaluate impacts it is developing a phenotyping system based on digital imaging that will make it possible to characterize the growth of shoots and roots during the entire growing season.
Agrár-Béta Ltd subcontracted Szent István University to conduct the small plot field testing of methods optimized in greenhouses. The University of Debrecen, also as a subcontractor, is conducting the selection of energy willow genotypes with large biomass yield and moderate water demand using mass spectrometry technology.
In case of tree species used as bioenergy raw materials (poplar, empress tree) it has been shown that through doubling the chromosome number typical of the species growth intensity and biomass yield can both be increased significantly. Such a polyploidization technology has not yet been elaborated for willows. In order to produce polyploid energy willow HAS Biological Research Centre is using cell division inhibitor compounds and antisense oligonucleotides to test temporary gene silencing. This is the initial phase of a longer term project that lays down the foundations for breeding patentable new species.