Switchgrass has been championed as a promising cellulosic feedstock based on its broad adaptability, abiotic stress tolerance, and high yields with low inputs. Researchers still need a detailed understanding of the genetic or molecular basis of these attributes or how they arose over evolutionary time. They also need more information on the role of microbial associates in the performance of switchgrass and its utility as a biofuel feedstock. The data obtained through this project will allow studies of climate/diversity association, population genomic inference of switchgrass evolutionary history, and provide a benchmark and training set for molecular breeding strategies like genomic selection. Ultimately, these studies will help to identify critical plant and microbial community traits that may be manipulated, through breeding or agronomic management, to improve the sustainability and productivity of biofuel feedstocks.
Proposer’s Name: Tom Juenger, UT-Austin