U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



A. Monti (ed.), Switchgrass, Green Energy and Technology; DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4471-2903-5_2


Switchgrass was one of the dominant species of the North American tallgrass prairie and savanna ecosystems that once dominated a large portion of the continent. It is currently used for pasture, hay production, soil conservation, and biomass production for conversion to energy. Switchgrass was selected in 1992 as the herbaceous model species to develop dedicated cellulosic bioenergy crops. Breeding and genetics studies began on switchgrass in the 1950s, focused on utilization in livestock agriculture. Recent developments have rapidly increased the rate of gain for biomass yield, largely by increasing the focus and intensity of selection and improving the choice of germplasm and selection methods. Modern genomics tools are rapidly being incorporated into switchgrass breeding programs to increase the rate of gain for important agronomic and bioenergy traits, as well as to create new variability that can be captured in commercial cultivars.