See more from this Session: Bioenergy Crop Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Long Beach Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Lower Level
Between 1909 to 1938 the scientific literature on Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides L.) focused on the discovery of unique phytochemical compounds and mineral nutrients within the plant. One article of particular interest was written in 1927 by A.W. Schorger of the C.F. Burgess Laboratories in Madison, Wisconsin. It was the first article to address the carbohydrate contents (Galactans, Pentosans, Pectins, and Glucosides) found within the species. Soon it was realized that T. usneoides possessed some unique fiber qualities, and research emerged on how these qualities could be exploited for industrial use. By the1940s scientific literature reported methods of collecting, curing (retting), and ginning the moss (Johns, 1938). The creation of a “moss ginning industry” soon emerged, and at least twelve ginning-plants existed in Florida at one time. Two major plants were the Florida Moss Ginning Company of Ocala; and The Vego-Hair Manufacturing Company of Gainesville (Shoemaker, 1957). Unfortunately, the industrial utility of this natural fiber would fade by the 1950s, but between the 1960 and 1970s scientific literature returned to focus on understanding the morphology, botanical characteristics, and growth habits of this subtropical epiphyte. More recently, starting in the 1980s through the turn of the century, scientific literature examined the ecological adaptation and physiological mechanisms (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) of the species. Today, T. usneoides may once again become useful to industry, as histological studies of its peltate-scales reveals high affinities for certain airborne pollutants; perhaps it may serve as a bio-indicator of atmospheric contamination? Or, a more significant potential of this unique bromeliad is that it can produce copious amounts of biomass without any major inputs (soil, water, nutrients). The purpose of this report is to discern if T. usenoides can serve as a potential bioenergy feedstock.