Panicle removal delays plant senescence and enhances vegetative growth improving biomass production in switchgrass

Chunqiao Zhao, Yuesen Yue, Juying Wu, John Scullion, Qiang Guo, Qinghai Wang, Cui Li, Xiuyun Wan, Xincun Hou*, Xifeng Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) shows great bioenergy potential and provides multiple ecological services. However, its severe seed shedding causes biomass waste and seed diffusion risk. Questions arise as to the production performance of switchgrass after panicle removal (PR), which remains unknown. We revealed switchgrass growth responses to PR and illustrated physiological reasons. Compared to the untreated switchgrass, PR significantly stimulated stem elongation (32.13%) and increased tiller number (39.70%), as well as aboveground biomass (24.69%). Importantly, PR significantly increased contents of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) in the stem, which was directly beneficial to the ethanol conversion, and in the rhizome and root. The chlorophyll contents, net photosynthetic efficiency, and photochemical quantum efficiencies of flag leaf increased significantly. PR switchgrass allocated more assimilates into the stem, root, rhizome, and NSCs. Activities of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, ribulose-1, 5-diphosphate carboxylase, sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) in flag leaf and adenosine diphosphate glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase) and SPS in the stem and rhizome all increased significantly. In contrast, activities of the AGPase in flag leaf and sheath decreased significantly. Contents of zeatin nucleoside, gibberellins, and indoleacetic acid in flag leaf, stem, and rhizome all increased. Abscisic acid contents in flag leaf and stem decreased significantly while increased significantly in the rhizome. In conclusion, growth-promoting hormones delayed plant senescence, enhanced leaf photosynthesis, and enhanced vegetative growth through regulating assimilates-metabolism-related enzymes, which increased biomass accumulation in PR switchgrass. This work provided new insights for yield and digestibility improvement in switchgrass through field management practices, hormones regulation, or genetic modification strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106809
Number of pages10
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Early online date07 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2023


  • C-labeling
  • Biomass weight
  • Panicle removal
  • Plant senescence
  • Switchgrass


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