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1 September 2012 Germination of Panicum virgatum cultivars in a NaCl gradient
Michael A. Carson, Amy N. Morris
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With increased interest in biofuel production, the conversion of agricultural lands (known to concentrate salts) as well as other marginal lands will be critical in establishing a switchgrass-based renewable biofuel industry. In this study three cultivars (Trailblazer, Cave-in-Rock, and Blackwell) of Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) were germinated in a NaCl gradient of 0.0, 0.0504, 0.1002, and 0.1546 molar solutions. Three replicates were run, lasting 20 days each, from September 2010 to November 2010. Each replicate consisted of six samples for each cultivar:concentration combination, for a total of 72 samples per replicate. A two-way ANOVA indicated that for all three replicates percent germination was significantly affected by salinity concentration, cultivar type, and salinity concentration x cultivar type (p<0.05). Furthermore, post hoc results showed that nearly every combination of cultivars and concentrations with respect to percent germination was significant. In all, the data from all three replicates showed that the Trailblazer cultivar was the most successful at germinating in saline conditions for every concentration tested. This information fills a crucial gap in knowledge, as most research pertaining to switchgrass has focused on conversion of plant matter into alcohols from sugars as well as cellulose. From this study, decisions regarding cultivar type and alterations to standard seeding density, based upon germination rates, may be determined to make land conversion as economically and ecologically productive as possible.

Michael A. Carson and Amy N. Morris "Germination of Panicum virgatum cultivars in a NaCl gradient," BIOS 83(3), 90-96, (1 September 2012).
Received: 30 June 2011; Accepted: 1 January 2012; Published: 1 September 2012

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