Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 579–589 | Cite as

Major Energy Plants and Their Potential for Bioenergy Development in China

  • Xiaofeng Li
  • Shenglin Hou
  • Man Su
  • Mingfeng Yang
  • Shihua Shen
  • Gaoming Jiang
  • Dongmei Qi
  • Shuangyan Chen
  • Gongshe LiuEmail author


China is rich in energy plant resources. In this article, 64 plant species are identified as potential energy plants in China. The energy plant species include 38 oilseed crops, 5 starch-producing crops, 3 sugar-producing crops and 18 species for lignocellulosic biomass. The species were evaluated on the basis of their production capacity and their resistance to salt, drought, and/or low temperature stress. Ten plant species have high production and/or stress resistance and can be potentially developed as the candidate energy plants. Of these, four species could be the primary energy plants in China: Barbados nut (Jatropha curcas L.), Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.), sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) and Chinese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis Anderss.). We discuss the use of biotechnological techniques such as genome sequencing, molecular markers, and genetic transformation to improve energy plants. These techniques are being used to develop new cultivars and to analyze and manipulate genetic variation to improve attributes of energy plants in China.


Energy plants Geographical distribution Biomass production Biotechnology China Bioenergy 



The authors would like to thank the professional editor from Liwen Bianji-Edanz Editing (China) and Dr. Mathew Christian Halter from Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee for their help in improving the English language use. We are grateful to four anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (973, 2007CB108905) and the Key Project of Kaidi (81618C1001).

Supplementary material

267_2010_9443_MOESM1_ESM.doc (112 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 112 kb)


  1. Chang TJ, Chen L, Lu ZX, Che WX, Xu X, Zhu Z (2002) Cloning and expression patterns of a metallothionein-like gene htMT2 of Helianthus tuberosus. Acta Botanica Sinica 44:1188–1193Google Scholar
  2. Crompton P, Wu YR (2005) Energy consumption in China: past trends and future directions. Energy Economics 27:195–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fu DJ, Huang HW (2006) Brief introduction of exploitation and utilization of fuel plants resources. Journal of Wuhan Botanical Research 24:183–190Google Scholar
  4. Gao CL, Yin HQ, Ai NS, Huang ZW (2009) Historical analysis of SO2 pollution control policies in China. Environmental Management 43:447–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goff SA et al (2002) A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. japonica). Science 296:92–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. He W, Guo L, Wang L, Yang W, Tang L, Chen F (2007) ISSR analysis of genetic diversity of Jatropha curcas L. Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology 13:466–470Google Scholar
  7. Heaton EA, Flavell RB, Mascia PN, Thomas SR, Dohleman FG, Long SP (2008) Herbaceous energy crop development: recent progress and future prospects. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 19:202–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huang CM, Li YR, Ye YP (2005) Sugarcane tissue culture and rapid propagation. Crops 4:25–26Google Scholar
  9. IEA (2005) Benefits of Bioenergy. International Energy Agency,
  10. Information Center of Ministry of Land and Resources (2009) Comprehensive land use planning of 1997–2010. Beijing, China
  11. Ishitani M, Rao I, Wenzl P, Beebe S, Tohme J (2004) Integration of genomics approach with traditional breeding towards improving abiotic stress adaptation: drought and aluminum toxicity as case studies. Field Crops Research 90:35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lam E, Shine J, Silva J, Lawton M, Bonos S, Calvino M, Carrer H, Marcio CSF, Glynn N, Helsel Z, Ma J, Richard E, Souza GM, Ming R (2009) Improving sugarcane for biofuel: engineering for an even better feedstock. GCB Bioenergy 1:251–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lao FY, Liu R, He HY, Deng HH, Li QW, Chen ZH, Chen JW, Fu C, Qi YW, Zhang CM (2009) Genetic diversity analysis of sugarcane parents with AFLP in China. Genomics and Applied Biology 28:503–508Google Scholar
  14. Lei JR, Yu JL, Yu A (2006) Tissue culture of Ipomoea batatas. Journal of Gansu Agricultural University 41:113–115Google Scholar
  15. Li JF, Hu RQ (2003) Sustainable biomass production for energy in China. Biomass and Bioenergy 25:483–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li Q, Liu QC, Ma DF, Zang N (2005) Advances, problems and prospects in genetic transformation on sweet potato. Molecular Plant Breeding 3:99–106Google Scholar
  17. Li MR, Li HQ, Wu GJ (2006) Study on factors influencing Agrobacterium mediated transformation of Jatropha curcas. Journal of Molecular Cell Biology 39:83–89Google Scholar
  18. Li J, Li MR, Wu PZ, Tian CE, Jiang HW, Wu GJ (2008) Molecular cloning and expression analysis of a gene encoding a putative beta-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) synthase III (KAS III) from Jatropha curcas. Tree Physiology 28:921–927Google Scholar
  19. Liang Y, Chen H, Tang MJ, Yang PF, Shen SH (2007) Responses of Jatropha curcas seedlings to cold stress: photosynthesis-related proteins and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics. Physiologia Plantarum 131:508–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lin CS, Li YY, Liu JL, Zhu WB, Chen X (2006) Diversity of energy plant resources and its prospects for the development and application. Henan Agricultural Sciences 12:17–23Google Scholar
  21. Liu JG, Diamond J (2005) China’s environment in a globalizing world. Nature 435:1179–1186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu GS, Zhou QY, Song SQ, Jing HC, Gu WB, Li XF, Su M, Srinivasan R (2009) Research advances into germplasm resources and molecular biology of energy plant sweet sorghum. Chinese Bulletin of Botany 44:253–261Google Scholar
  23. Lu WD, Wei Q, Tang L, Yan F, Chen F (2003) Induction of callus from Jatropha curcas and rapid propagation. Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology 9:127–130Google Scholar
  24. Luo T, Ma DW, Xu Y, Deng WY, Xiao M, Qing RW, Chen F (2007) Cloning and characterization of a stearoyl-ACP desaturase gene from Jatropha curcas. Journal of Shanghai University 11:182–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ma GH, Xu QS, Xian YL (1999) Effects of several auxins on somatic embryogenesis and plant regeneration in cassava. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany 7:75–80Google Scholar
  26. Ma LX, Shao HB, Wu G, Chu LY (2007) Resource evaluation of main oil plants and functional zone planning in China. Proceedings of the third international green energy conference, June 18–20, 2007, Sweden, pp 214–226Google Scholar
  27. Margulies M et al (2005) Genome sequencing in microfabricated high-density picolitre reactors. Nature 437:376–380Google Scholar
  28. Moose SP, Mumm RH (2008) Molecular plant breeding as the foundation for 21st century crop improvement. Plant Physiology 147:969–977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) (2007a) ‘The 11th Five-Year Plan’ for the energy development planning of China. Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  30. National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) (2007b) The medium- and long-term development plan for renewable energy in China. Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  31. Paterson AH et al (2009) The Sorghum bicolor genome and the diversification of grasses. Nature 457:551–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Qin H, Song SQ, Li CL, Cheng HY (2006) Tissue culture and plant regeneration of Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae). Acta BotanicaYunnanica 28:649–652Google Scholar
  33. Qin Y, He YQ, Nong YY, Jiang BL, Wu ZK (2008) Preliminary report on genetic transformation of cassava mediated by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Journal of Guangxi Agricultural and Biological Sciences 17:218–223Google Scholar
  34. Shao HB, Chu LY (2008) Resource evaluation of typical energy plants and possible functional zone planning in China. Biomass and Bioenergy 32:283–288Google Scholar
  35. Shoemaker R et al (2002) A compilation of soybean ESTs: generation and analysis. Genome 45:329–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. State Statistical Bureau (1990–2003, 2007) China’s Statistical Yearbook 1990–2003, 2007. China Statistics Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  37. Tang MJ, Sun JW, Liu Y, Chen F, Shen SH (2007) Isolation and functional characterization of the JcERF gene, a putative AP2/EREBP domain-containing transcription factor, in the woody oil plant Jatropha curcas. Plant Molecular Biology 63:419–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tuskan GA et al (2006) The genome of black cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa (Torr & Gray). Science 313:1596–1604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wang ZT, Gao F, Zhang SW, Qin XB, Xu Y (2007) Construction and analysis of Jatropha curcas L. endosperm cDNA library. Journal of Sichuan University (Natural Science Edition) 44:173–176Google Scholar
  40. Wang YX, Zhang Y, Jiang LD, Niu B, Chen F (2008) Cloning of a new aquaporin gene (JcPIP) from Jatropha curcas and analysis of its function under drought stress. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany 16:289–295Google Scholar
  41. Wu PZ, Li J, Wei Q, Zeng L, Chen YP, Li MR, Jiang HW, Wu GJ (2009) Cloning and functional characterization of an acyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase (JcFATB1) from Jatropha curcas. Tree Physiology 29:1299–1305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Xiang ZY, Song SQ, Wang GJ, Chen MS, Yang CY, Long CL (2007) Genetic diversity of Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae) collected from southern Yunnan, detected by inter–simple sequence repeat (ISSR). Acta Botanica Yunnanic 29:619–624Google Scholar
  43. Xiao Q, Guo YL, Kong H, He LK, Guo AP (2009) Cloning of cassava SBEI gene fragment and construction of its storage root specific antisense expression vectors. Genomics and Applied Biology 28:255–261Google Scholar
  44. Xie GH, Guo XQ, Wang X, Ding RE, Hu L, Chen X (2007) An overview and perspectives of energy crop resources. Resources Science 29:74–81Google Scholar
  45. Yang MF, Liu YJ, Liu Y, Chen H, Chen F, Shen SH (2009) Proteomic analysis of oil mobilization in seed germination and post germination development of Jatropha curcas. Journal of Proteome Research 8:1441–1451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yao W, Yu L, Xu JS, Geng GL, Zhang MQ, Chen RK (2004) Analysis and identification for transgenic sugarcane of ScMV-CP gene. Molecular Plant Breeding 2:13–18Google Scholar
  47. Yu J et al (2002) A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica). Science 296:79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yuan JS, Tiller KH, Al-Ahmad H, Stewart NR, Neal Stewart C Jr (2008) Plants to power: bioenergy to fuel the future. Trends in Plant Science 13:421–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhang SZ, Yang BP, Feng CL, Cheng RK, Luo JP, Cai WW, Liu FH (2006) Expression of the trehalose synthase gene enhances the drought-tolerance in sugarcane (Saccharum oficinarum L.). Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 48:453–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang Y, Wang Y, Jiang L, Xu Y, Wang Y, Lu D, Chen F (2007) Aquaporin JcPIP2 is involved in drought responses in Jatropha curcas. Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica (Shanghai) 39:787–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhao LM, Liu SJ, Song SQ (2008) Efficient induction of callus and plant regeneration from seeds and mature embryos of sweet sorghum. Chinese Bulletin of Botany 25:465–468Google Scholar
  52. Zhou JX, Li KM, Wang WQ (2005) Evaluation on microsatellite molecular genetic diversity of cassava germplasm resources by SSR marker. Journal of South China University of Tropical Agriculture 11:1–5Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaofeng Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shenglin Hou
    • 1
    • 3
  • Man Su
    • 1
  • Mingfeng Yang
    • 1
  • Shihua Shen
    • 1
  • Gaoming Jiang
    • 4
  • Dongmei Qi
    • 1
  • Shuangyan Chen
    • 1
  • Gongshe Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.R & D Center for Energy PlantsInstitute of Botany, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Millet CropsHebei Academy of Agricultural and Forestry SciencesShijiazhuangChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental ChangeInstitute of Botany, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations