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Title: Genotypic diversity effects on biomass production in native perennial bioenergy cropping systems

The perennial grass species that are being developed as biomass feedstock crops harbor extensive genotypic diversity, but the effects of this diversity on biomass production are not well understood. We investigated the effects of genotypic diversity in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) on perennial biomass cropping systems in two experiments conducted over 2008–2014 at a 5.4-ha fertile field site in northeastern Illinois, USA. We varied levels of switchgrass and big bluestem genotypic diversity using various local and nonlocal cultivars – under low or high species diversity, with or without nitrogen inputs – and quantified establishment, biomass yield, and biomass composition. In one experiment (‘agronomic trial’), we compared three switchgrass cultivars in monoculture to a switchgrass cultivar mixture and three different species mixtures, with or without N fertilization. In another experiment (‘diversity gradient’), we varied diversity levels in switchgrass and big bluestem (1, 2, 4, or 6 cultivars per plot), with one or two species per plot. In both experiments, cultivar mixtures produced yields equivalent to or greater than the best cultivars. In the agronomic trial, the three switchgrass mixture showed the highest production overall, though not significantly different than best cultivar monoculture. In the diversity gradient, genotypicmore » mixtures had one-third higher biomass production than the average monoculture, and none of the monocultures were significantly higher yielding than the average mixture. Year-to-year variation in yields was lowest in the three-cultivar switchgrass mixtures and Cave-In-Rock (the southern Illinois cultivar) and also reduced in the mixture of switchgrass and big bluestem relative to the species monocultures. The effects of genotypic diversity on biomass composition were modest relative to the differences among species and genotypes. Our findings suggest that local genotypes can be included in biomass cropping systems without compromising yields and that genotypic mixtures could help provide high, stable yields of high-quality biomass feedstocks.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [5]
  1. Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS 66506 USA
  2. USDA-ARS Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison WI 53706 USA
  3. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601 Australia
  4. Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University, Boise ID 83725 USA
  5. Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne IL 60439 USA
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; yield; Biomass feedstock; big bluestem; cultivars; ecotype; fertilization; low-input high-diversity; polymorphism; switchgrass; tallgrass prairie
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1234275; OSTI ID: 1364337