Genetic Diversity of Switchgrass Populations Grown in New Jersey.
Laura Cortese1, Jo Anne Crouch1, Joshua Honig1, Eric Weibel1, Christopher Miller2, William Skaradek2, and Stacy Bonos1. (1) Rutgers University, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (2) USDA-NRCS, USDA-NRCS, 1536 Route 9 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a warm-season perennial grass native to the US, has considerable potential as a biofuel crop. Although a significant amount of genetic diversity exists within switchgrass, little research has been conducted on the level of genetic diversity and local adaptation among different populations/ecotypes of switchgrass currently recommended for habitat restoration and biofuel production in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US. The emergence of PCR-based molecular markers such as simple sequence repeats (SSRs) has allowed for more detailed genetic characterizations of germplasm collections. The objectives of this study were to determine molecular and morphological differences within and between 14 different switchgrass populations. Morphological measurements were taken on 12 individuals from each of the 14 switchgrass populations in 2005 and 2006. Publicly available switchgrass specific microsatellite (SSR) markers were utilized for the molecular marker analysis. Both molecular and morphological differences exist within populations evaluated. Morphological analysis distinguished upland from lowland ecotypes, but molecular marker analysis did not completely distinguish populations. Continued work with molecular markers is needed to further differentiate between switchgrass populations.