skip to main content

Title: Effects of switchgrass cultivars and intraspecific differences in root structure on soil carbon inputs and accumulation

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L), a cellulosic biofuel feedstock, may promote soil C 21 accumulation compared to annual cropping systems by increasing the amount and retention of 22 root-derived soil C inputs. The aim of this study was to assess how different switchgrass 23 cultivars impact soil C inputs and retention, whether these impacts vary with depth, and whether 24 specific root length (SRL) explains these impacts. We collected soil to a depth of 30 cm from six 25 switchgrass cultivars with root systems ranging from high to low SRL. The cultivars (C4 species) 26 were grown for 27 months on soils previously dominated by C3 plants, allowing us to use the 27 natural difference in 13C isotopic signatures between C3 soils and C4 plants to quantify 28 switchgrass-derived C accumulation. The soil was fractionated into coarse particulate organic 29 matter (CPOM), fine particulate organic matter (FPOM), silt, and clay-sized fractions. We 30 measured total C and plant-derived C in all soil fractions across all depths. The study led to two main results: (1) bulk soil C concentrations beneath switchgrass cultivars varied by 40% in the 0-32 10 cm soil depth and by 70% in the 10-20 cm soil depth, andmore » cultivars with high bulk soil C 33 concentrations tended to have relatively high C concentrations in the mineral soil fractions and 34 relatively low C concentrations in the POM fractions; (2) there were significant differences in 35 switchgrass-derived soil C between cultivars at the 0-10 cm depth, where soil C inputs ranged 36 from 1.2 to 3.2 mg C g-1 dry soil. There was also evidence of a positive correlation between SRL 37 and switchgrass-derived C inputs when one outlier data point was removed. These results 38 indicate that switchgrass cultivars differentially impact mechanisms contributing to soil C accumulation.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5]
  1. Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States)
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  3. Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS (United States)
  4. Swiss Federal Inst. of Technology, Zurich (Switzerland)
  5. Boise State Univ., ID (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Geoderma; Journal Volume: 262; Journal Issue: C
Research Org:
Argonne National Laboratory (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
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES C4 grasses; carbon-13; root structure; soil carbon; specific root length; switchgrass cultivars