Genetic and environmentally derived variation in the cell wall composition of miscanthus and implications for thermo-chemical conversion

  • Edward M. Hodgson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Fifteen Miscanthus genotypes grown in five locations across Europe were analysed to investigate the influence of genetic and environmental factors on cell wall composition. Chemometric techniques combining near infrared reflectance spectroscopy and conventional chemical analyses were used to construct calibration models for determination of acid detergent lignin, acid detergent fibre, and neutral detergent fibre from sample spectra. The developed equations were shown to predict cell wall components with a good degree of accuracy and significant genetic and environmental variation was identified. The influence of nitrogen and potassium fertiliser on the dry matter yield and cell wall composition of M. x giganteus was investigated. A detrimental affect on feedstock quality was observed to result from application of these inputs which resulted in an overall reduction in concentrations of cell wall components and increased accumulation of ash within the biomass. Pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and thermo-gravimetric analysis indicates that genotypes other than the commercially cultivated M. x giganteus have potential for use in energy conversion processes and in the bio-refining. The yields and quality parameters of the pyrolysis liquids produced from Miscanthus compared favourably with that produced from SRC willow and produced a more stable pyrolysis liquid with a higher lower heating value. Overall, genotype had a more significant effect on cell wall composition than environment. This indicates good potential for dissection of this trait by QTL analysis and also for plant breeding to produce new genotypes with improved feedstock characteristics for energy conversion.
Date of AwardDec 2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTony Bridgwater (Supervisor) & Iain S. Donnison (Supervisor)


  • lignocellulosic
  • biomass
  • NIRS
  • fast-pyrolysis
  • bio-oil

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