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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Campbell, Amy [1], Snow, Allison [1].

Fitness-Related Traits of Cultivated vs. Wild Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum): Implications for Widespread Planting of Biofuel Cultivars.

Many cultivated plant varieties can hybridize with co-occurring wild relatives or give rise to feral populations. In some cases, non-neutral crop traits could alter the fitness of the wild type, perhaps leading to increased weediness or local extinction of the "pure" wild type. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which is native to much of North America and also is cultivated as a forage crop, has recently entered a breeding and selection program for use as a biofuel crop. However, little is known about the ecology of wild vs. cultivated switchgrass, including differences in fecundity, competitive ability, or the potential for ongoing hybridization. To evaluate fitness-related traits conferred by selective breeding, we compared one wild population and four cultivars grown for two years in a common garden at Ohio State University. To investigate overlapping flowering times, we recorded the numbers of flowering shoots in each group on a weekly basis. In October, after flowering was completed, we measured plant height and counted total numbers of flowering and non-flowering shoots. We found significant differences among groups in height (P<0.0001), total shoot number (P=0.0001), and flowering shoot number (P<0.0001). Wild plants were shorter than the cultivars, on average, and were intermediate in the number of total shoots and number of flowering shoots. Flowering times overlapped among all genotypes, with the greatest overlap occurring among the wild type and three of the four cultivars. Thus, gene flow could occur between wild and cultivated genotypes. Significant differences in the number and size of vegetative and reproductive shoots highlights the need for more research about the potential effects of feral or hybridized switchgrass on the persistence of remnant native populations. Transgenic switchgrass is being developed with greatly enhanced productivity, drought tolerance, herbicide resistance, reduced lignin, and sterility. The current study is part of a larger project to assess the potential for current and future biofuel cultivars to become feral and displace native genotypes via competition and/or genetic swamping.

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1 - Ohio State University, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, 300 Aronoff Laboratory, 318 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, Ohio, 43210-1293, USA

Panicum virgatum
fitness-related traits
Crop-to-Wild Gene Flow.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Hall A/Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PEC015
Abstract ID:330

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