Understanding winter survival in a perennial bioenergy grass.
Gene expression and metabolite data collected from rhizomes of field-grown switchgrass plants reveal that metabolism during dormancy involves discrete but interrelated events, providing further evidence that the internal and external environment is actively monitored by the plant even while over-wintering.
Understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying rhizome metabolism in switchgrass during dormancy may provide tools that breeders can use to improve winter survival of this important bioenergy crop.
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a warm-season grass that is grown as a source of biomass for biofuels as well as for forage and conservation purposes. As a perennial, the aerial tissues senesce at the end of each growing season while below-ground rhizomes become dormant. The following spring, new tillers use stored carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) reserves to regenerate from these underground tissues, indicating that plant survival is dependent upon the ability of the rhizome to survive and remain healthy during cold winter temperatures. However, little is known about the seasonal changes that occur during over-wintering of below-ground plant tissues. To investigate the cellular processes involved with dormancy and to model the metabolic pathways operating during this phase, gene expression data was collected from rhizomes harvested from field-grown switchgrass plants over two growing seasons and analyzed together with metabolite data. They found that metabolism in switchgrass rhizomes during the dormant period involves discrete but interrelated events, including cold-related signaling, that may be associated with the translocation of C, N, and other nutrients and regulate resource partitioning between above- and below-ground plant tissues throughout the year. These results support that hypothesis that dormant switchgrass rhizomes are metabolically active, and pave the way for future studies to extend the range of switchgrass production into more northern climates.
Contacts (BER PM)
USDA ARS Lincoln, NE
DOE-USDA Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy (DE-AI02-09ER64829); USDA NIFA (2011-67009-30096); USDA ARS CRIS (3042-21000-030-00D; 3042-21220-032-00D)
Palmer, N.A., A.J. Saathoff, E.D. Scully, C.M. Tobias, P. Twigg, S. Madhavan, M. Schmer, R. Cahoon, S.E. Sattler, S.J. Edmé, R.B. Mitchell, G. Sarath. “Seasonal below-ground metabolism in switchgrass.” The Plant Journal 92(6) 1059-1075 (2017). [DOI:10.1111/tpj.13742]
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
May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]
May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]
May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]
May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]
Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]
List all highlights (possible long download time)