Natural variation for nutrient use and remobilization efficiencies in switchgrass

Jiading Yang, Eric Worley, Mingyi Wang, Brett Lahner, David E. Salt, Malay Saha, Michael Udvardi

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Nutrient management in biomass production systems serves to maximize yield and minimize production costs and environmental impact. Loss of soil nutrients with harvested biomass can be reduced by the judicious choice of genotype and harvest time. Sustainable production of switchgrass for biofuel will depend, in part, on breeding of varieties that are conservative in their use of soil nutrients to produce biomass. To aid such breeding programs, we assessed the natural variation in nutrient-use and remobilization efficiencies of 31 accessions of Panicum virgatum by measuring the concentration of 20 elements (N, P, K, Li, B, Na, Mg, Ca, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Mo, and Cd) in shoots of field-grown plants harvested at two different stages of development. Significant differences between accessions were found for elemental composition at maturity and after senescence. The concentration of several elements (N, P, K, and Rb) decreased in the shoots of all accessions during senescence, although the efficiency of remobilization ranged from 20% to 61% for N, 31% to 65% for P, 25% for 84% for K, and 33% to 84% for Rb. The accessions/cultivars with the greatest nutrient-use efficiency (smallest loss of nutrient per unit biomass) were BN-14668-65, Kanlow, Caddo from the point of view of N content, and Kanlow, Cave-in-Rock, and Blackwell from the point of view of P content in senescent shoots. Finally, differences in elemental composition between upland and lowland ecotypes were also found. The information presented here will help to guide future breeding programs and nutrient management practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-266
Number of pages10
JournalBioEnergy Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • switchgrass
  • nutrient remobilization
  • accessions
  • ecotypes
  • nuclear-dna content
  • panicum-virgatum
  • chloroplast DNA
  • biomass
  • nitrogen
  • yield
  • crop
  • populations
  • quality
  • harvest


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