ArborGen Partners with University of Florida to Advance Pine-based Biofuels as Part of $6.3 Million DOE ARPA-E Grant

Tue Oct 4, 2011 12:20pm EDT

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ArborGen Partners with University of Florida to Advance Pine-based Biofuels as Part of $6.3 Million DOE ARPA-E Grant

Research team to develop genetically improved Loblolly Pine trees that yield greater amounts of terpene for use in transportation biofuels

ArborGen, a world leader in the development and commercialization of technologies that improve the productivity of trees for wood, fiber and energy, will serve on a University of Florida-led research team to advance Pine-based transportation biofuels. Funded by a 3-year $6.3 million grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), the research team’s goal is to bring about a 5-fold increase in the amount of terpene produced by Loblolly Pine, making it cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels.

As a leading commercial supplier of genetically improved Loblolly Pine seedlings, ArborGen will lend its expertise to the research team by developing and implementing novel and complementary approaches to increase the production of terpene in Loblolly Pine. The research team will be led by Gary Peter, Ph.D. and professor of forest genomics with University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation in Gainesville, Fla. Maud Hinchee, Ph.D., ArborGen chief science officer, and William Rottmann, Ph.D., an ArborGen senior scientist, will contribute to this innovative research project. In this effort, they join representatives from University of California – Berkeley’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).

“ArborGen is ready to lend its scientific and commercial expertise in advancing the research goals of this exciting University of Florida-led Pine biofuel project,” said Hinchee. “Loblolly Pine is a proven crop that has the potential to dramatically transform the economics of biofuel production, benefiting landowners, biofuels producers and increasing jobs in rural America. ArborGen is involved in finding ways to maximize the productivity of trees so that emerging industries can obtain the resources they need, while conserving the supply required by traditional industries such as wood and pulp and paper.”

The University of Florida “Plant Engineered To Replace Oil” (PETRO) project will increase the production of terpene, a natural liquid biofuel isolated from Pine trees. The Pine tree developed for this project is designed both to increase the terpene storage capacity of the wood and to increase terpene production from three percent to 20 percent. The fuel produced from these trees would become a sustainable domestic biofuel source able to produce 100 million gallons of fuel per year from less than 25,000 acres of forestland.

“Loblolly Pine is economically important throughout the Southeast because it’s widely used for lumber and wood pulp,” said Jack Payne, University of Florida senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “By working with research entities and companies such as ArborGen to develop the potential of Loblolly Pine as a sustainable biofuel source, we can add a new dimension to its value, which has long-term benefits to the entire region and will provide greater economic security for our residents.”

About ArborGen

ArborGen is revolutionizing productivity in commercial forestry. ArborGen is the largest global supplier of seedling products to the commercial forestry industry, as well as the leading developer of biotech seedlings. Through innovations in both conventional breeding and biotechnology, ArborGen is developing high-value products that significantly improve the productivity of a given acre of land. These products enable ArborGen’s customers to grow trees that yield more wood per acre with greater consistency and quality in a shorter period of time. ArborGen’s work is improving the sustainability of working forests while helping to meet the world’s growing need for wood, fiber and energy. For more information, please visit

Nancy M. Hood, 843-851-5077
Director, Public Affairs and Sustainability
Rasky Baerlein
Travis Small, 617-391-9654