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Genetic Diversity, Plant Adaptation Regions, and Gene Pools for Switchgrass


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 47 No. 6, p. 2261-2273
    Received: Dec 14, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): mdcasler@wisc.edu
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  1. Michael D. Casler *a,
  2. Chad A. Stendalb,
  3. Ludmila Kapichb and
  4. Kenneth P. Vogelc
  1. a USDA-ARS, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, WI 53706-1108
    b Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706
    c USDA-ARS, Univ. of Nebraska-East Campus, P.O. Box 830937, Lincoln, NE 68583-0937


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a perennial grass native to the North American tallgrass prairie and broadly adapted to the central and eastern USA. Transfer of germplasm throughout this region creates the potential of contaminating local gene pools with genes that are not native to a locale. The objective of this study was to identify structural patterns and spatial variation for molecular markers of switchgrass populations from the northern and central USA. Forty-six prairie-remnant populations and 11 cultivars were analyzed for random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. Although there was significant population differentiation, little of this variation was associated with geographic regions. A small amount of population differentiation was associated with hardiness zones and ecoregions, suggesting that a recent proposal to use these two criteria for defining plant adaptation regions has merit for defining gene pools and seed-transfer zones of switchgrass. Cultivars of switchgrass cannot be differentiated from prairie-remnant populations in the northern and central USA on the basis of RAPD markers, indicating that they are still highly representative of natural germplasm. Seed sources of switchgrass can be moved considerable distance within hardiness zones and ecoregions without causing significant contamination, pollution, swamping, or erosion of local gene pools.

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Copyright © 2007. Crop Science Society of AmericaCrop Science Society of America