Effects of ecotypes and morphotypes in feedstock composition of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)
Bhandari, H., D. Walker, J. Bouton, and M. Saha.  2014.  GCB Bioenergy, Volume 6:26-34.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a C4 grass with high biomass yield potential and is now a model species for the Bioenergy Feedstock Development Program. Two distinct ecotypes (e.g., upland and lowland) and a range of plant morphotypes (e.g., leafy and stemmy) have been observed in switchgrass. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of ecotype and morphotype on biomass feedstock quality. Leaf and stem tissues of leafy and stemmy morphotypes from both lowland and upland ecotypes were analyzed for key feedstock traits. The leaf : stem ratio of leafy morphotype was more than 40% higher than the stemmy morphotype in both upland and lowland ecotypes. Therefore, the stemmy morphotype has significant advantages over leafy morphotype during harvesting, storage, transportation and finally the feedstock quality. Remarkable differences in feedstock quality and mineral composition were observed in switchgrass genotypes with distinct ecotypic origins and variable plant morphotypes. Lignin, hemicelluloses and cellulose concentrations were higher in stems than in the leaves, while ash content was notably high in leaves. A higher concentration of potassium was found in the stems compared to the leaves. In contrast, calcium was higher and magnesium was generally higher in the leaves compared to stems. The upland genotypes demonstrated considerably higher lignin (14.4%) compared with lowland genotypes (12.4%), while hemicellulose was higher in lowland compared with upland. The stemmy type demonstrated slightly higher lignin compared with leafy types (P < 0.1). Differences between the ecotypes and morphotypes for key quality traits demonstrated the potential for improving feedstock composition of switchgrass through selection in breeding programs.