Academic Year: 2013-2014
Name: Charles Kwit   
Department: Plant Sciences
Student: Micaha Hanson
Student Department: Arts and Science
Title of Student Project: Diversity and Genetic Structure of Native Switchgrass in the Midsouth
Publications:
Nageswara-Rao, M., M. Hanson, S. Agarwal, C.N. Stewart, and C. Kwit. In press. Genetic diversity analysis of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) populations using microsatellites and chloroplast sequences. Agroforestry Systems.
Presentations:
-     Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA),University Center Ballroom, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA [Building Research Interest and Developing Global Engagement (BRIDGE)]
-     Population genetics and diversity analysis of natural and agronomic switchgrass populations. In: Switchgrass II Conference, Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
 
Other Products:
Abstract of Student Project (when Completed):
The U.S. landscape is at risk of being drastically altered by the planting of biomass feedstocks to accommodate government-mandated benchmarks for energy production and consumption. This may result in the alteration of current genetic structure of native wild conspecific populations through introgression from planted cultivars. For example, if cultivars, which may one day be transgenic, are planted next to or in areas close to the native populations, native species may experience dramatic changes in their genetic structure via pollination from cultivars and subsequent backcrosses. In this study, the genetic diversity and structure of native switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) populations in Tennessee, along with a popular agronomic cultivar (cv. Alamo) for biomass production, were quantified. Various microsatellite (SSR) fragments (n=12) were amplified from individual (n=9 to 20) leaf samples collected from four natural and four agronomic switchgrass populations in central and eastern Tennessee, USA. Fragments were amplified by PCR in a programmable thermal cycler, and PCR products were analyzed with the QIAxcel Capillary Electrophoresis System. Various population genetic parameters, such as gene frequency, genetic diversity, geneflow, population structure were estimated and analyzed. Locus-specific amplification of SSR molecular markers differentiated switchgrass populations. The present study was also able to differentiate DNA polymorphisms among natural and agronomic switchgrass populations. This information will be useful for switchgrass genetic resources management, breeding and conservation strategies.

Where are they now: Technician at BioPet Vet Lab, pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Drug Chemistry from the University of Florida.
 

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Student: Micaha Hanson

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Mentor: Charles Kwit