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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improving bioenergy and forage plants and production systems for the central U.S.

Location: Grain, Forage & Bioenergy Research

Title: Micro-mesh fabric pollination bags for switchgrass

Authors
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Sarath, Gautam
item Mitchell, Robert

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass is a perennial grass that is being developed into a biomass energy crop. It is necessary to make controlled crosses between switchgrass plants to make improvements by plant breeding. Pollination bags are necessary to restrict pollen to those plants being inter-mated. An improved pollination bag was made using a polyester micro-mesh fabric with a mesh size of 41 microns which is smaller than the mean reported 43 micron diameter of switchgrass pollen. When used in paired plant crosses between switchgrass plants, the average amount of seed produced per plant was 800 seeds which was significantly greater than the 10 to 250 seeds produced previously in crosses of switchgrass plants using paper pollination bags. The four to tenfold increase in seed produced per cross enables the progeny of the crosses to be evaluated in larger numbers in genetic studies and in replicated evaluation trials.

Technical Abstract: Pollination bags for making controlled crosses between switchgrass plants were made from a polyester micro-mesh fabric with a mesh size of 41 µm which is smaller than the mean reported 43 µm diameter of switchgrass pollen. When used in paired plant crosses between switchgrass plants, the mean amount of seed produced per plant was about 1 gm or approximately 800 seeds which was significantly greater than the 10 to 250 seeds produced previously in paired plant crosses of switchgrass using paper pollination bags. The four to tenfold increase in seed produced per cross enables the progeny of the crosses to be evaluated in larger numbers in genetic studies and in replicated space-transplanted or seeded sward evaluation trials. The micro-mesh pollination bags cost about $15 each because of fabric costs but can be reused indefinitely.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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