Cuticular wax variants in a population of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)

Joshua M. Weaver, Greg Lohrey, Pernell Tomasi, John M. Dyer, Matthew A. Jenks, Kenneth A. Feldmann

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Abstract

Leaf cuticular waxes are known to influence both biotic and abiotic stress tolerances of plants. The objective of this work was to characterize the wax phenotypic diversity present in a population of 1849 switchgrass plants. We identified 92 visually distinct variant plants that possessed altered leaf glaucousness relative to the common standard type (ST), which exhibited a bluish-white (glaucous) leaf color. The variants could be grouped into three classes: 1) non-glaucous types (NG) that possessed a shiny green leaf surface, 2) reduced glaucous types (RG) that appeared less glaucous than ST, and 3) highly glaucous types (HG) that exhibited more intense bluish-white color than ST. Analyses of total cuticular wax content averaged over each of three NG (mean 304.79 ± 15.16 μg/dm2), RG (mean 533.33 ± 21.62 μg/dm2) and HG types (mean 1228.23 ± 45.74 μg/dm2) showed significant differences (P < 0.001) from three selected STs (mean 810.92 ± 30.57 μg/dm2). Analysis of wax composition among these selected types revealed that the C33 β-diketones were the most abundant wax compounds in all but NG types. Field emission scanning electron microscopy showed that abaxial leaf surfaces exhibited predominantly rod-shaped crystals, and adaxial surfaces exhibited predominantly plate-shaped wax crystals on all lines, except for NG that lacked wax crystals on the abaxial leaf surface. As a target for crop improvement, this study reveals that a large amount of variation for cuticle waxes exists within this switchgrass germplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Volume117
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018

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