, Volume 167, Issue 1, pp 95–105 | Cite as

Genetic variability and interrelationships of seed yield and yield components in switchgrass

  • Modan K. Das
  • Charles M. Taliaferro


Information on the genetic variability of seed yield and yield components is limited and no information is available on correlations among seed yield and yield components and direct and indirect effects of the yield components on seed yield in switchgrass, Panicum virgatum L. Accordingly, we conducted replicated experiments at Chickasha and Perkins, OK, in 1998 involving 11 lowland type switchgrass populations to assess genetic variation for seed yield and yield components, quantify interrelationships among them, and determine direct and indirect effects of yield components on seed yield through path coefficient analysis to identify traits for indirect selection of seed yield. Significant (P ≤ 0.01) variation existed among the 11 populations over locations for percent seed set and 100-seed weight. Seed yield/plant and the seed yield components panicle number/plant, spikelet number/panicle, and seed number/panicle had significant (P ≤ 0.05) population × location interactions, indicating substantial environmental influence on these traits for these populations. Accordingly, data for these traits were analyzed separately for each location revealing significant (P ≤ 0.01) differences among populations at both locations for each of these traits. Phenotypic correlation between seed yield/plant and seed number/panicle was positive (r = 0.76** at Chickasha and r = 0.72** at Perkins). Path coefficient analyses revealed that seed number/panicle had the highest positive direct effect on seed yield at both locations. Ample genetic variability was present among the switchgrass populations studied to allow breeding improvement of seed yield. Selection for increased seed number/panicle would be the most effective means of indirectly selecting for higher seed yield within this germplasm. Correlation and path coefficient analyses among biomass yield, seed yield, and harvest index indicated that, at least within the switchgrass germplasm studied, it would be possible to breed switchgrass cultivars with enhanced biomass yielding ability and sufficient seed production capability for their commercial propagation.


Switchgrass Genetic variability Path coefficient Seed yield Indirect selection Panicumvirgatum L. Harvest index 



We thank Gary Williams, Sharon Williams and Rose Edwards for technical assistance. Research support was provided by the Biofuels Feedstock Development Program, US Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.


  1. Aiken GE, Springer TL (1995) Seed size distribution, germination, and emergence of 6 switchgrass cultivars. J Range Manage 48:455–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Board JE, Kang MS, Harville BG (1997) Path analyses identify indirect selection criteria for yield of late-planted soybean. Crop Sci 37:879–884Google Scholar
  3. Boe A (2003) Genetic and environmental effects on seed weight and seed yield in switchgrass. Crop Sci 43:63–67Google Scholar
  4. Boe A (2007) Variation between two switchgrass cultivars for components of vegetative and seed biomass. Crop Sci 47:636–640Google Scholar
  5. Boe A, Beck DL (2008) Yield components of biomass in switchgrass. Crop Sci 48:1306–1311. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2007.08.0482 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boe A, Casler MD (2005) Hierarchical analysis of switchgrass morphology. Crop Sci 45:2465–2472. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2004.0703 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bortnem R, Boe A (1993) Variability for seed weight among and within three switchgrass cultivars In: Faw W (ed) Proceedings of the American Forage and Grassland Council, 29–31 March, 1993. Des Moines. American Forage and Grassland Council, Georgetown, pp 208–211Google Scholar
  8. Cicek MS, Chen P, Saghai Maroof MA, Buss GR (2006) Interrelationships among agronomic and seed quality traits in an interspecific soybean recombinant inbred population. Crop Sci 46:1253–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cobos MJ, Rubio J, Fernandez-Romero MD, Garza R, Moreno MT, Millan T (2007) Genetic analysis of seed size, yield and days to flowering in a chickpea recombinant inbred line population derived from a Kabuli X Desi cross. Ann Appl Biol 151:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Das MK, Fuentes RG, Taliaferro CM (2004) Genetic variability and trait relationships in switchgrass. Crop Sci 44:443–448Google Scholar
  11. Dewey DR, Lu KH (1959) A correlation and path coefficient analysis of components of crested wheatgrass seed production. Agron J 51:515–518Google Scholar
  12. Donald CM (1962) In search of yield. J Aust Inst Agric Sci 28:171–178Google Scholar
  13. Green JC, Bransby DI (1995) Effects of seed size on germination and seedling growth of ‘Alamo’ switchgrass. In: West NE (ed) Proceedings of the 5th international rangeland congress, Salt Lake City, 23–28 July 1995, vol 1. Society for range management, Denver, pp 183–184Google Scholar
  14. Henry DS, Taylor TH (1989) Registration of KY 1625 switchgrass germplasm. Crop Sci 29:1096Google Scholar
  15. Hohenstein WG, Wright LY (1994) Biomass energy production in the United States: an overview. Biomass Bioenergy 6(3):161–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hopkins AA, Vogel KP, Moore KJ, Johnson KD, Carlson IT (1995) Genotypic variability and genotype x environment interactions among switchgrass accessions from the midwestern USA. Crop Sci 35:565–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hopkins AA, Taliaferro CM, Murphy CD, Christian D (1996) Chromosome number and nuclear DNA content of several switchgrass populations. Crop Sci 36:1192–1195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Houghton D, Weatherwax S, Ferrell J (2006) Breaking the biological barriers to cellulosic ethanol: a joint research agenda. A research roadmap resulting from the biomass to biofuels workshop sponsored by US Dept of Energy. December 7–9, 2005, Rockville, p 57 DOE/SC–0095, publication date June 2006. [WWW document] URL: Accessed on 17 August, 2008
  19. Kang MS (1994) Applied quantitative genetics. M.S. Kang Publishers, Baton RougeGoogle Scholar
  20. Kassel PC, Mullen RE, Bailey TB (1985) Seed yield response of three switchgrass cultivars for different management practices. Agron J 77:214–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kneebone WR (1972) Breeding for seedling vigor. In: Youngner VB, McKell CM (eds) The biology and utilization of grasses. Academic Press, New York, pp 90–100Google Scholar
  22. Kneebone WR, Cremer CR (1955) The relationship of seed size to seedling vigor in some native grass species. Agron J 47:472–477Google Scholar
  23. Martinez-Reyna JM, Vogel KP (2002) Incompatibility systems in switchgrass. Crop Sci 42:1800–1805Google Scholar
  24. Martinez-Reyna JM, Vogel KP, Caha C, Lee DJ (2001) Meiotic stability, chloroplast DNA polymorphisms, and morphological traits of upland × lowland switchgrass reciprocal hybrids. Crop Sci 41:1579–1583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McLaughlin SB (1993) New switchgrass biofuels research program for the southeast. In: Proceedings of the annual automative technology development contractors coordinating meeting, Nov. 2–5, 1992, Dearborn, pp 111–115Google Scholar
  26. McLaughlin SB, Walsh ME (1998) Evaluating environmental consequences of producing herbaceous crops for bioenergy. Biomass Bioenergy 14:317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McMillan C, Weiler J (1959) Cytogeography of Panicum virgatum in central North America. Am J Bot 78:183–188Google Scholar
  28. Moser LE, Vogel KP (1995) Switchgrass, big bluestem and indiangrass. In: Barnes RF, Miller DA, Nelson CJ (eds) Forages Vol. 1: an introduction to grassland agriculture, 5th edn. Iowa St Univ Press, Ames, pp 409–420Google Scholar
  29. Newell LC, Eberhart SA (1961) Clone and progeny evaluation in the improvement of switchgrass, Panicum virgatum L. Crop Sci 1:117–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nichiporovich, AA (1960) Photosynthesis and theory of obtaining high crop yields. Fifteenth Timirjaze lecture, U.S.S.R. Acad. Sci. (translation and review by J. N. Black & D. J. Watso; Field Crop Abst. 13:169–175)Google Scholar
  31. Nielson EL (1944) Analysis of variation in Panicum virgatum. J Agric Res 69:327–353Google Scholar
  32. Parrish DJ, Fike JH (2005) The biology and agronomy of switchgrass for biofuels. Crit Rev Plant Sci 24:423–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peters NCB (1985) Competitive effects of Avena fatua L. plants derived from seeds of different weights. Weed Res 25:67–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Porter CL Jr (1966) An analysis of variation between upland and lowland switchgrass, Panicum virgatum L., in central Oklahoma. Ecology 47:980–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Redfearn DD, Moore KJ, Vogel KP, Waller SS, Mitchell RB (1997) Canopy architecture and morphology of switchgrass populations differing in forage yield. Agron J 89:262–269Google Scholar
  36. Rogler GA (1954) Seed size and seedling vigor in crested wheatgrass. Agron J 46:216–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rose LW, Das MK, Fuentes RG, Taliaferro CM (2007) Effects of high- vs. low-yield environments on selection for increased biomass yield in switchgrass. Euphytica 156:407–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rose LW, Das MK, Taliaferro CM (2008) Estimation of genetic variability and heritability for biofuel feedstock yield in several populations of switchgrass. Ann Appl Biol 152:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. SAS Institute Inc. (1999) SAS online doc, version 8. SAS Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
  40. Sladden SE, Bransby DI (1992) Genetic variation in morphology, yield and quality of switchgrass. In: Proceedings of the American forage and grassland council, pp 175–178Google Scholar
  41. Talbert LE, Timothy DH, Burns JC, Rawlings JO, Moll RH (1983) Estimates of genetic parameters in switchgrass. Crop Sci 23:725–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Taliaferro CM (2002). Breeding and selection of new switchgrass varieties for increased biomass production. Oak Ridge national laboratory. [WWW document]. URL Accessed 6 August 2008
  43. Taliaferro CM, Hopkins AA (1996) Breeding characteristics and improvement potentials of switchgrass. In: Proceedings of the third liquid fuel conference: liquid fuels and industrial products from renewable resources. Nashville, 15–17 Sept. 1996, pp 2–9Google Scholar
  44. Taliaferro CM, Hopkins AA, Anderson MP, Anderson JA (1996) Breeding and genetic studies in bermudagrass and switchgrass. In: Proceedings of the 52nd southern pasture & forage crop improvement conference, Oklahoma City, March 30–April 2, 1996, pp 41–52Google Scholar
  45. Vogel KP (2000) Improving warm-season forage grasses using selection, breeding, and biotechnology. In: Moore KJ, Anderson BE (eds) Native warm-season grasses: research trends and issues., vol 30. CSSA Spec. Publ., Madison, WI, pp 83–106Google Scholar
  46. Wu YQ, Taliaferro CM, Martin DL, Goad CL, Anderson JA (2006) Genetic variability and relationships for seed yield and its components in Chinese Cynodon accessions. Field Crops Res 98:245–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant & Soil SciencesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Seeds West, Inc.MaricopaUSA

Personalised recommendations