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


Date of this Version



Casler, M.D., K.P. Vogel, C.M. Taliaferro, and R.E. Wynia. 2004. Latitudinal adaptation of switchgrass populations. Crop Sci. 44:293-403.


U.S. government work


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a widely adapted warm-season perennial that has considerable potential as a biofuel crop. Evolutionary processes and environmental factors have combined to create considerable ecotypic differentiation in switchgrass. The objective of this study was to determine the nature of population x location interaction for switchgrass, quantifying potential differences in latitudinal adaptation of switchgrass populations. Twenty populations were evaluated for biofuel and agronomic traits for 2 yr at five locations ranging from 36 to 46° N lat. Biomass yield, survival, and plant height had considerable population x location interaction, much of which (53-65%) could be attributed to the linear effect of latitude and to germplasm groups (Northern Upland, Southern Upland, Northern Lowland, and Southern Lowland). Differences among populations were consistent across locations for maturity, dry matter, and lodging. Increasingly later maturity and the more rapid stem elongation rate of more southern-origin ecotypes (mainly lowland cytotypes) resulted in high biomass yield potential, reduced dry matter concentration, and longer retention of photosynthetically active tissue at more southern locations. Conversely, increasing cold tolerance of more northern-origin ecotypes (mainly upland cytotypes) resulted in higher survival, stand longevity, and sustained biomass yields at more northern locations, allowing switchgrass to thrive at cold, northern latitudes. Although cytotype explained much of the variation among populations and the population x location interaction, ecotypic differentiation within cytotypes accounted for considerable variation in adaption of switchgrass populations.