The application of plant biotechnology for non-food uses: The case of China
Applications of plant biotechnology play increasingly important role in solving food and energy crisis. As the world’s largest country by population, China pays special attention to the development of agricultural biotechnology and biomass energy technology. Several excellent review articles have introduced the research progress of China’s crop biotech and bioenergy. However, plant biotechnology in China has more diverse applications for non-food uses and environmental sustainability. This paper reviews the recent applications of plant biotechnology in bioenergy, biocontrol, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and phytoremediation of polluted environments. The emphasis is mainly focused on the bioconversion of biofuels especially bioethanol and the activated carbon, the survey of energy plants rich in hydrocarbons and carbohydrates, the biocontrol agents (plant epiphytic yeasts) and phytoremediation of heavy metal pollution and water eutrophication. Moreover, plant biotechnology shows very good efficacy in the identifications of confused medicinal plants, active constituents of TCM and the taxonomic identification of plant diseases and insects. The huge number of biomass residue and abundant plant resources provide vast application perspectives for China’s plant biotechnology.
Key words: Biomass energy, biocontrol agents, environmental pollution, phytoremediation, plant biotechnology, traditional Chinese medicine.