Ewa Mellerowicz surveys a hybrid aspen plant at an early stage of field trials in Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Ewa Mellerowicz.Scientists in Bio4Energy and academic colleagues have shown in field trials that aspen trees that were genetically modified (GM) to render more input material for making biofuel from wood than their wildtype counterparts, are robust enough to grow at a real-life plantation. The researchers also found that they could extract more such glucose sugar, more easily, from the GM trees, compared with the wildtype.
“The glucose yield was 25 to 30 percent higher in the modified trees compared with the wildtype trees. This is a result obtained without pre-treatment so it means that [the modification helped to] decrease the recalcitrance of the wood and made the raw material easier to transform into sugar”, Mellerowicz told Bio4Energy Communications.
Mellerowicz is one of the principal investigators on the research and development platform Bio4Energy Feedstock and has been in charge of verifying laboratory results in experimental plantations, or field trials, since the start in 2014 at Våxtorp, Sweden. The scientists planted and monitored more than 600 GM hybrid aspen trees, but which had to be harvested on the early side because of the impact of severe drought conditions in the summer of 2018, when all of Europe experienced heat waves.