Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 4:00 PM

Genotypic evaluation of bermudagrass for conversion to ethanol

William F. Anderson, Crop Breeding and Genetics Research Unit, USDA-ARS, P.O. Box 748, Tifton, GA 31793, Bruce S. Dien, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, USDA-ARS, Midwest Area, 1815 N. University Street, Peoria, IL 61604, Joy Peterson, Microbiology, University of Georgia, 204 Biological Sciences, Athens, GA 30605, and Danny E. Akin, Russell Research Center, Quality Assessment Research Unit, ARS-USDA, 950 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30605.

Bermudagrass is a staple pasture and hay for the cattle and horse industries throughout the South. This perennial warm-season grass is also considered a good candidate as a feedstock for the conversion of cellulose to ethanol. The significant genetic improvements of rumen digestibility in bermudagrass along with increased yields over the last half century indicate that reduction in the recalcitrance of the cell wall can be achieved without reduction of yield or persistence. Standard and improved pre-treatment of raw plant material and subsequent conversion to ethanol was performed on bermudagrass germplasm with variability in rumen digestibility. A low stringency conversion protocol was used to compare genotypes for ethanol production and was correlated with rumen digestibility, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent fiber data. Implications as to breeding and evaluation of bermudagrass as well as how it may relate to other grass species feedstocks for the ligno-cellulose conversion to ethanol will be discussed.