The scope of this project is to develop new maize varieties that are better suited for a circular and biobased Economy. We aim to improve maize biomass quality, in particular lignocellulosic biomass, to develop maize varieties with higher digestibility (for feed) and high saccharification efficiency (for biofuels). For many centuries breeders have focused their efforts on improving yields (and more recently also quality) of edible parts of the plant. Most crops cultivated currently produce one (or few) main products in addition to (large) waste streams with limited economic value.
The plants of the future will be tailored to optimal feedstocks for biorefineries, where all components have been optimized to be used of processed in an efficient manner, while complying with sustainability criteria and preserving soil properties and natural resources. To develop such new plants, where the plant is considered as a factory of different building blocks for multiple products, food and non-food, new breeding tools are required. The biomass needs to be converted to products in an resource use efficient manner, and the recycling of nutrients needs to be ensured, in particular through the effective use of manure. In this project we will develop new maize varieties with improved biomass quality for biobased products and new technologies that can more efficiently convert biomass into biobased products.