EBI Personnel Directory Sacks, Erik

Feedstock Development

Erik Sacks





Assessing the Potential Impact of Insect Pests and Plant Pathogens on Biomass Production of Miscanthus x giganteus and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

These two plant species are highly promising biomass sources, and insects and pathogens can cause diseases that can have a serious impact on production. This project seeks to identify such threats and to study possible control strategies.


Genetics and Pre-Commercial Breeding of Perennial Bioenergy Grasses

Northern-adapted, warm-season C4 perennial grasses are among the most promising candidates for developing sustainable dedicated bioenergy crops for North America. Genetic resources will play an essential role in increasing biomass yield of feedstock crops. However, germplasm collections in the U.S. for these species are small, and little breeding work has been done on them. This project is developing the foundational underpinnings for bioenergy grass crop improvement.

Improving Energycane with Genes from Miscanthus

Sugarcane is a leading bioenergy crop, with Brazil being the largest producer of sugarcane (-l/3rd of World production) and ethanol derived from sugarcane (-25 billion liters in 2009). Modem sugarcane cultivars are derived from a relatively small set of founder genotypes, which has contributed to cultivar susceptibility to diseases and pests, and limited the variation for tolerance to abiotic stresses in elite germplasm. Efforts to improve sugarcane for disease and pest resistance, and stress tolerance have also relied primarily on introgression from S. spontaneum. Arguably, Miscanthus would be a better source of genes for improving sugarcane than S. spontaneum because the former is more broadly adapted to diverse environments, is highly resistant to pests and diseases, and is more genetically distant from S. offinarum. This project will develop new Miscanthus x Saccharum populations and identify methods for improving the efficiency of obtaining such intergeneric hybrids.