Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Switchgrass: Bridging Bioenergy And Conservation

Date:
October 9, 2007
Source:
US Department of Agriculture
Summary:
An important part of the answer to the country's energy woes could be blowing in the prairie wind, according to a plant geneticist. He has spent the past 10 years breeding switchgrass, an eight-foot-plus native plant that was an integral part of the tall grass prairies that once dominated America's Midwest. As a breeder, he is mostly concerned with the plant's bioenergy-friendly attributes, including its ability to accumulate large amounts of biomass and tolerate environmental stress.

Which switchgrasses are best suited for reseeding our native grasslands?
Credit: Stephen Ausmus

An important part of the answer to the country's energy woes could be blowing in the prairie wind, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist Michael Casler. He has spent the past 10 years breeding switchgrass, an eight-foot-plus native plant that was an integral part of the tall grass prairies that once dominated America's Midwest.

As a breeder, Casler is mostly concerned with the plant's bioenergy-friendly attributes, including its ability to accumulate large amounts of biomass and tolerate environmental stress. Casler works at the agency's U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis.

Recently, he began looking at switchgrass from another standpoint—as a restorer of once-pristine prairies. Historically, a sprawling seas of grasses once stretched from Montana and the Dakotas down to Texas, with pockets of prairie as far east as New York. Now, with much of this land fragmented or altered, only a patchwork of remnant prairies remains.

Numerous federal, state and private conservation efforts are examining how best to revive these vestigial prairies. But a question of genealogy always arises: Which switchgrass varieties should be planted that will be in keeping with a site's genetic legacy?

Some conservationists insist on using only long-established, local varieties of switchgrass. Others argue that modern-day cultivars can appropriately be used.

Along with ARS scientist Kenneth Vogel in Lincoln, Neb., Casler set out to bring clarity to this debate and, hopefully, ease the task of grassland restoration.

After two summers spent trekking native Midwestern prairies, plucking samples and sending them back to his laboratory, Casler discovered that today's agronomically important switchgrass cultivars are nearly identical genetically to their grassy ancestors.

The study's findings are good news for prairie restorers, who can confidently tap a wider pool of switchgrass cultivars and local varieties for conservation projects. And switchgrass growers can take satisfaction knowing their fields still are, in many ways, symbolic of the country's rich grassy past.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by US Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

US Department of Agriculture. "Switchgrass: Bridging Bioenergy And Conservation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071006085213.htm>.
US Department of Agriculture. (2007, October 9). Switchgrass: Bridging Bioenergy And Conservation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071006085213.htm
US Department of Agriculture. "Switchgrass: Bridging Bioenergy And Conservation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071006085213.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins