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High Photosynthetic Rate And Water Use Efficiency Of Miscanthus Lutarioriparius Characterize An Energy Crop In The Semiarid Temperate Region

J. Yan, C. Zhu, W. Liu, F. Luo, J. Mi, Y. Ren, J. Li, T. Sang
Published 2015 · Environmental Science

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The development of second‐generation energy crops on marginal land relies on the identification of plants with suitable physiological properties. In this study, we measured and compared leaf photosynthesis and water use efficiency of 22 populations from three Miscanthus species, M. lutarioriparius, M. sacchariflorus, and M. sinensis, planted in two experimental fields located in Qingyang of the Gansu Province (QG) and Jiangxia of the Hubei Province (JH) in China. QG is located in the Loess Plateau, one of the world's most seriously eroded regions particularly abundant in semiarid marginal land. At both locations, M. lutarioriparius produced the highest biomass and had the highest photosynthetic rates (A), with the growing‐season average of A reaching nearly 20 μmol m−2 s−1. Native to JH, M. lutarioriparius maintained a relatively high photosynthetic rate into the late growing stage in QG, for example, 15 μmol m−2 s−1 at temperature as low as 11.6 °C in October. All three species had higher water use efficiency (WUE) in semiarid QG than in warmer and wetter JH. In the late growing stage of M. lutarioriparius, instantaneous WUE (A/E) of the species nearly tripled in QG comparing to JH. Being able to maintain remarkably high photosynthetic rates when transplanted to a colder and drier location, these M. lutarioriparius populations serve as suitable wild progenitors for energy crop domestication in the Loess Plateau and other areas with the similar climates.
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