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dc.contributor.authorLowman, James Scotten_US
dc.date.accessioned2015-08-15T06:00:07Z
dc.date.available2015-08-15T06:00:07Z
dc.date.issued2014-02-20en_US
dc.identifier.othervt_gsexam:2245en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10919/56480
dc.description.abstractThe US Department of Energy has focused research efforts on developing switchgrass into a bioenergy feedstock, helping to offset the use of non-renewable fossil fuels and make the US more energy independent. Bacterial endophytes, which reside inside plant tissues, are proven to increase yield and stress resistance in a number of plants. The primary objective of this dissertation was to explore the use of endophytes to improve biomass yields of switchgrass on lands not suitable for food crops and better understand the underlying mechanisms of the plant-endophyte interaction. Integration of this research into K-12 STEM education to increase interest in plant sciences and create the next generation of scientists with the motivation to help solve the challenges facing society in the twenty first century was the objective of the outreach component of this project. Chapter one demonstrates the ability of Burkholderia phytofirmans strain PsJN to colonize switchgrass and promote plant growth under in vitro (approximately 50% higher), and growth chamber and greenhouse (48.6% higher biomass yields) conditions. The objectives of Chapter two were to determine stand establishment in the field with different nutrient levels. PsJN bacterization positively benefited growth and development of switchgrass seedlings in the field with both low and high nutrient content. Highly significant (p<0.001) stimulation of root and shoot growth, lateral root formation and number of tillers was recorded on soil with low fertility. PsJN bacterization also enhanced biomass accumulation during the two seasons of growth on both poor (p<0.001) and rich (p<0.05) soil, indicating the potential for the use of PsJN in a low-input switchgrass feedstock production system. Chapter three outlines differences in gene expression patterns upon bacterization, between the responsive cv. Alamo, and a non-responsive cv. Cave-in-Rock. Using EST microarrays and quantitative PCR up- and down-regulated genes were identified in both cultivars. One of the key genes identified was a member of the tau class, glutathione S-transferase (GST). GST enzymes are known to be involved in plants responses to stress. Using overexpression and knockout/knockdown techniques we demonstrated that GST is likely involved in the bacterization induced early plant growth promotion in switchgrass. Chapter four describes the potential for the utilization of beneficial bacterial endophytes capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen in a free-living state in the development of low-input switchgrass feedstock production systems. Sphingomonas sp. strain NSL isolated from switchgrass tissue was able to grow on nitrogen free medium and stimulated growth of switchgrass cv. Alamo under nitrogen deficient conditions. The ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen was also moved to Burkholderia phytofirmans strain PsJN via horizontal gene transfer from the legume nodulating Burkholderia phymatum. The transformed PsJN was able to fix nitrogen and promote plant growth under nitrogen limited conditions. At every step of the research described in this dissertation efforts were made to include its elements into K-12 education. Chapter five describes four case studies aiming at the enhancement of youth interest in plant sciences in the socieoeconomically depressed areas of Southside Virginia.en_US
dc.format.mediumETDen_US
dc.publisherVirginia Techen_US
dc.rightsThis Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. Some uses of this Item may be deemed fair and permitted by law even without permission from the rights holder(s), or the rights holder(s) may have licensed the work for use under certain conditions. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights holder(s).en_US
dc.subjectLow-inputen_US
dc.subjectEndophyteen_US
dc.subjectGrowth Promotionen_US
dc.subjectSwitchgrassen_US
dc.subjectSustainable Agricultureen_US
dc.subjectEducationen_US
dc.subjectOutreachen_US
dc.titleUtilizing Beneficial Bacterial Endophytes to Promote Switchgrass Growth in Low- input Agricultural Production Systemsen_US
dc.typeDissertationen_US
dc.contributor.departmentHorticultureen_US
dc.description.degreePh. D.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh. D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.grantorVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineHorticultureen_US
dc.contributor.committeechairNowak, Jerzyen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWells, John Gauldenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberFlinn, Barryen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberZhao, Bingyuen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMei, Chuanshengen_US


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