New Switchgrass Germplasm Collected in Florida

Nov 26, 2009 By Alfredo Flores
New Switchgrass Germplasm Collected in Florida
Forty-six new populations of switchgrass from many different environments in Florida such as from swampy areas, oak forests, pine scrubs, weedy areas along roadsides, and back dune areas along the coast have been added to the ARS germplasm collection. Photo courtesy of NRCS.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have collected 46 new populations of switchgrass in Florida, adding valuable new accessions to the germplasm collection of this potential bioenergy crop.

Switchgrass, a perennial warm season grass used for forage and soil conservation, is now being studied as a biomass crop for ethanol. These new additions to the switchgrass perennial grass collection could provide new genetic resources for biofuel feedstocks.

The research supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) priority of developing new sources of bioenergy. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.

The native switchgrass collection trips were conducted in Florida in 2008 and 2009 by ARS agronomist Melanie Harrison-Dunn and research leader Gary Pederson at the ARS Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit in Griffin, Ga. They worked in cooperation with plant material specialist Mary J. Williams with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Florida State Office in Gainesville, Fla., and senior biological technician Mary Anne Gonter with the NRCS Brooksville Plant Materials Center in Brooksville, Fla.

During the collection trips, the researchers discovered new switchgrass populations in many different environments—including swampy areas, oak forests, pine scrubs, weedy areas along roadsides, and dune areas along the coast. The scientific team braved alligators, spiders and other dangers while collecting switchgrass, often in areas endangered by habitat destruction.

There was significant genetic variation in the populations found, including differences in seed maturity, foliage abundance, plant height, and panicle (fruit attached to branch) size. GPS coordinates for each location were recorded, as well as elevation, plant description, site description, abundance and distribution of plants in the area, and other vegetation found at the site.

The materials will be deposited in the ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), where it will be preserved and maintained for future research by plant breeders and others interested in improving this valuable grass.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

Explore further: No-take marine reserves a no-win for seahorses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Which grass is greener to power the bioenergy era?

Oct 03, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Talk about a field of dreams. Cornell bioenergy plant experts are learning which field grasses are the best candidates for "dedicated energy" crops in the Northeast, considering the region's ...

Hardy New Corn Lines Released

Oct 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Six new inbred maize lines with resistance to aflatoxin contamination have now been registered in the United States by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS plant pathologist Robert ...

Researchers pursue grasses as Earth-friendly biofuel

Jul 21, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- At a small site on the Batavia campus of Fermilab, ecologist Julie Jastrow of Argonne National Laboratory pushes the scientific frontier in a new and exciting way: She watches the grass grow.

Switchgrass produces biomass efficiently

Nov 23, 2009

A USDOE and USDA study concluded that 50 million U.S. acres of cropland, idle cropland, and cropland pasture could be converted from current uses to the production of perennial grasses, such as switchgrass, from which biomass ...

Sweet Potato Protection is More Than Skin Deep

Oct 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sweet potatoes are a seasonal staple that earn U.S. producers some $370 million every year. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found traits in sweet potatoes that someday ...

Recommended for you

No-take marine reserves a no-win for seahorses

16 hours ago

A UTS study on how seahorses are faring in no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in NSW has revealed that where finishing is prohibited, seahorses aren't doing as well.

Dolphin hunting season kicks off in Japan

21 hours ago

The controversial six-month dolphin hunting season began on Monday in the infamous town of Taiji, but bad weather would delay any killing, a local official told AFP.

User comments : 0