Influence of Clonal Variation on the Efficiency of Arundo donax Propagation Methods

  • Tommaso Danelli
  • Enrico Cantaluppi
  • Alberto Tosca
  • Elena Cassani
  • Michela Landoni
  • Stefano Bosio
  • Fabrizio Adani
  • Roberto PiluEmail author


The recent growth of interest in Arundo donax L. (Giant reed) as an energy crop is due to its great vegetative vigor and high biomass productivity. This perennial rhizomatous plant is able to grow in a wide range of pedo-climatic conditions and it has been employed by man for a great number of purposes. This has promoted its worldwide diffusion, despite its sexual sterility. Field establishment represents the most expensive phase of the whole cultivation cycle, because of the high cost of the propagules. In this work three agamic propagation methods, rhizome transplantation, hydroponic cultivation, and in vitro propagation, were compared with the aim of improving their efficiency, and reducing costs and time required. We focused our attention on in vitro and hydroponic cultivation, finding clones characterized by a high response to these propagation methods. In vitro propagation is the most widespread technique adopted in the large-scale production of propagules; according to our results hydroponic cultivation also appears to be a valid and cheap propagation method, making it possible to obtain in about 2 months, vigorous plants ready to be transplanted into the field. We found a strong effect of the clone used on the success rate of the specific propagation method, suggesting that clonal selection could be particularly useful in improving the efficiency of propagation techniques, contributing to cost reduction. Evaluation of field performance of plants propagated by tissue culture is an important matter, considering the possible residual effects of hormones on plants’ growth, and the importance of first year growth for field establishment. These experiments highlighted the lower biomass production from plants obtained by tissue culture. A novel cytokinin-like hormone, meta-topolin, was tested in vitro, in a preliminary study to evaluate its possible use for A. donax L. propagation.


Arundo donax Energy crop Hydroponic culture In vitro culture Hormones 



We wish to thank Dr. Davide Reginelli for his hard work in the field and Dr. Lesley Currah for her editing and suggestions.


This study was partly supported by Regione Lombardia and Fondazione Minoprio (d.g.r. 16/03/2011 n. IX/1435) by the project “Coltivazione di Arundo donax L. quale biomassa no-food ad elevata resa e basso impatto ambientale per produrre biogas: prove su cloni selezionati, prove agronomiche, produzione di biogas, multifunzionalità”.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

344_2019_9947_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (191 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 190 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – Production, Landscape, AgroenergyUniversità Degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Centro di Ricerca Orticoltura e FlorovivaismoCREASanremoItaly
  3. 3.MiRT Centre, Minoprio FoundationVertemate Con MinoprioItaly
  4. 4.Department of BiosciencesUniversità Degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  5. 5.Gruppo Ricicla − DiSAA − Università Degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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