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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314850

Title: Designing selection criteria for reed canarygrass as a bioenergy feedstock

item Casler, Michael
item CHERNEY, JEROME - Cornell University
item BRUMMER, E. CHARLES - University Of California
item Dien, Bruce

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/7/2015
Publication Date: 9/1/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Casler, M.D., Cherney, J., Brummer, E., Dien, B.S. 2015. Designing selection criteria for reed canarygrass as a bioenergy feedstock. Crop Science. 55:2130-2137.

Interpretive Summary: Reed canarygrass is a candidate for biomass production and use as a source of renewable energy. Breeding reed canarygrass to be more suitable for this purpose will require increases in biomass per unit area (yield) and in quality (conversion efficiency of biomass to energy). Breeding for increased yield is a relatively simple process that uses traditional field-plot methods that have proven to be successful. Breeding for improved quality, however, is a new activity that parallels the activities of plant breeders who are breeding forage and pasture crops for increased nutritional value to livestock. Using similar approaches to the livestock-based breeding programs, this paper demonstrates to plant breeders that traits associated with biomass quality should be incorporated into the breeding program to ensure that the goal of improved quality is accomplished within a reasonable time frame.

Technical Abstract: Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) is a perennial C3 grass with a circumglobal distribution in the northern hemisphere and adaptation to a wide range of environmental conditions. This species is currently under development as a bioenergy feedstock in both North America and Europe. Thus, the objectives of this study were to (1) quantify genetic variation for biomass quality traits of reed canarygrass cultivars and accessions, (2) determine the relationships of biomass quality traits and biomass yield of reed canarygrass, and (3) identify favorable and attainable breeding objectives for biomass yield and quality of reed canarygrass. Eighty cultivars or accessions were grown at five field locations and evaluated for 26 biomass quality traits in 2006 through 2008. Ignoring biomass quality traits in favor of the singular breeding objective of high biomass yield would be likely to result in a few favorable correlated responses including: low N, low ash, low Cl, low Fe, and high xylan efficiency. These changes would not be sufficiently large to transform reed canarygrass into a more favorable bioenergy feedstock within a few generations of breeding. To do so will require a more focused effort with a relatively small number of traits, e.g. high biomass yield, low ash, and high GCV for a thermochemical conversion platform or high biomass yield, low lignin, and high glucan and xylan efficiencies for a fermentation platform.