U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Understanding Winter Hardiness in Switchgrass
Published: December 12, 2011
Posted: February 23, 2012

The nation's dependence on imported fossil fuels could be alleviated, at least in part, by the domestication of dedicated bioenergy crops such as native perennial switchgrass for lignocellulosic ethanol production. Switchgrass is a promising feedstock candidate because it produces high yields of biomass on marginal lands unsuitable for production of food crops. In addition, perenniality (the ability of a plant to survive over winter and resume growth in the spring) is important for sustainability, since the unharvested below-ground tissues help maintain the integrity and nutrient status of the soil. Perennial biomass cultivars will need to tolerate fluctuations in temperature and rainfall, traits influenced by the overall health of below-ground tissues. Research┬Čers at the USDA-ARS in Lincoln, Nebraska, with funding from the joint USDA-DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy Program, analyzed changes in gene expression patterns in below-ground tissues (crowns and rhizomes) of the switchgrass cultivar 'Summer' to gain insight into the genetic mechanisms regulating these processes. The results revealed that these tissues are metabolically active, including pathways involved in basal cell metabolism and stress response. In addition, several novel gene sequences of unknown function were identified, which may represent genes specific to these tissues and with unique functions. These analyses should yield further insights into perenniality that will improve switchgrass as a sustainable bioenergy feedstock.

Reference: Palmer, N. A., A. J. Saathoff, J. Kim, A. Benson, C. M. Tobias, P. Twigg, K. P. Vogel, S. Madhavan, and G. Sarath. 2011. "Next-Generation Sequencing of Crown and Rhizome Transcriptome from Upland, Tetraploid Switchgrass," BioEnergy Research, DOI: 10.1007/s12155-011-9171-1. (Reference link)

Contact: Cathy Ronning, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)