Jessica N. Hentchel, Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Knoxville, TN and Hem S. Bhandari, 252 Ellington Plant Science Bldg., University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Switchgrass, a native perennial grass of North America, is perceived as a dedicated feedstock species for lignocellulosic ethanol production. Genetic improvement in biomass yield as well as ethanol content would likely to make switchgrass economically viable feedstock for ethanol production. The objective of this study was to evaluate genetic variation in biomass yield and ethanol content in lowland switchgrass. Sixty-two half-sib families derived from Alamo population of lowland switchgrass are being evaluated for biomass yield and ethanol content at two Tennessee locations, East Tennessee Research and Education Center, Knoxville, and Plateau Research and Education Center, Crossville. Field experiment was established in spring 2012 in a randomized block design with 3 replications. Each family in each replicate was planted in a row plot of 9 plants spaced 30 cm apart, and rows spaced 90 cm apart. The year one data were collected from Crossville site. At the end of fall 2012 a single random tiller was collected from each of the nine plants in a plot and pooled to constitute a plot sample. The samples were ground and scanned using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) according to Vogel’s procedure (Vogel, 2011). Results showed a wide variation in ethanol yield that ranged from 67 to 81 mg g-1 of dry matter biomass. Studies to estimate heritability for ethanol yield and genetic correlations between biomass yield and ethanol content is in progress.