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Online ISSN: 1757-1707
Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology
Improving Miscanthus x giganteus stem propagation
Miscanthus x giganteus is touted for its high biomass yields. Although its sterility (i.e. inability to propagate via seeds) reduces its risk of invasion, this trait requires propagation of the plant to be done vegetatively using parts of the parent plant. Traditionally, propagation of M. x giganteus has been conducted by splitting and planting rhizomes, which are underground stems. This process is not only costly, but it also achieves relatively low multiplication rates, i.e. the number of new plants generated from a single-parent plant, and requires tillage that leaves soil vulnerable to CO2 losses and erosion.
Boersma and Heaton investigated the viability of another type of vegetative propagation: stem-based propagation. They also determined how soil temperature, light, and node position influenced the emergence of M. x giganteus shoots from stem nodes. Nodes are enlarged portions on grass stems where new leaves, shoots, or roots develop.
Stems of M. x giganteus were cut into segments with a single node each, placed in controlled environments under varied soil temperature (15, 20, 25, or 30 °C) or light regimes (24 hours of darkness or 16 hours of light with 8 hours of dark) and the number of emerged shoots were evaluated daily for 21 days. The authors also studied how the position of the node on the stem (nearer to or further from the ground) affected shoot emergence.
The authors found that M. x giganteus can be propagated from stem nodes under controlled conditions. They also found that warmer soil temperatures and exposure to light increased shoot emergence. In addition, they found that the older nodes closer to the ground were more likely to emerge than the younger nodes at the top of the plant.
The authors conclude that planting the lowest five nodes from stems M. x giganteus in 30 °C soil in the light resulted in 75% emergence, which represents a potential multiplication rate 10–12 times greater than that of the current rhizome-based system.
Boersma, N. N. and Heaton, E. A. (2011), Effects of temperature, illumination and node position on stem propagation of Miscanthus × giganteus. GCB Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01148.x Read this paper.