Theme 4 - Other renewable plant resources, non-food crops

Last changed: 12 February 2024

An increasing number of people recognize a biobased economy to be the sustainable model for the future of earth and humanity. These ideas are generally representative for the TC4F-programme and they are particularly relevant for Theme 4.

Climate change, population increase and the earth´s limited resources are obvious indicators that petroleum needs to be replaced as the raw material of transport fuels, lubricants and plastics – just to mention a few examples. The green sector has the power to contribute to the replacement of fossil oils and thus create a biobased economy.

Research areas

With the help of biotechnics and other technologies, Theme 4 is focussing on transforming the vision of a biobased economy into specific biobased raw materials. Oils with specific qualities for technical uses and proteins for different kinds of material are two examples. We are making basic-level- as well as applied-level research.

Within the basic research of Theme 4 we are, among other things, trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the biosynthesis of plant lipids and thus be able to develop desired oil qualities. The research is also about understanding the genetic foundation for control of carbon flow and thus be able to produce starch, proteins and lipid oils by redirecting these flows. Within Theme 4 we also study the molecular mechanisms of bud dormancy of trees.

Wthin the applied research of Theme 4 we use biotechnics to optimize important crops, of which some parts can be used for different industrial purposes. Further we examine the possibilities to use waste products rich in proteins in an innovative way and thus be able to substitute materials from non renewable sources.

We also examine material structures of proteins in relation to its functions and uses and we also develop methods to analyze protein structures. Regarding starches we study the relation between chemical structures and the material properties which are needed for plastic films and coatings. We also develop methods for analyzing the structure of starch. Our research is based on plant material like wheat, oats, barley, crambe, field cress, sugar beets and potatoes. 

National and international co-operation

The research within Theme 4 is performed by different groups amounting at a total of more than 30 researchers from SLU in Alnarp, Uppsala and Umeå and altogether these groups are part of an extensive research network of national and international contacts. Since the start of TC4F, young researchers and PhD students have been recruited to stengthen and regenerate the total investment and achieve further success within the research area.


Li-Hua Zhu, Professor
Department of Plant Breeding, 040-415373