Fermentability of eastern gamagrass, big bluestem and sand bluestem grown across a wide variety of environments

Bioresour Technol. 2007 May;98(8):1615-21. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2006.06.003. Epub 2006 Sep 7.


Plant biomass has attracted interest as a feedstock for biofuels production, but much of this work has been focused on relatively few plant species. In this study, three relatively-unstudied species of warm-season perennial grasses, grown at multiple locations in the eastern and central US and harvested over a three year period, were examined for fermentability via in vitro ruminal gas production and dry matter digestibility assays, and near-infrared reflectance calibrations were developed for these fermentation parameters. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) displayed greater fermentability than did sand bluestem (Andropogon hallii Hack) or eastern gamagrass [Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L.], but displayed lower biomass yields. The bluestems also displayed lower N contents and less variation in fermentability over different growth environments (geographic locations and harvest years), suggesting a more consistent biomass quality than for eastern gamagrass. Thus, in addition to their use as forage for ruminant animals, bluestems may be of particular interest as feedstocks for bioconversion to ethanol and other products via direct microbial fermentation (consolidated bioprocessing) schemes, and thus merit additional efforts to enhance biomass yield potential.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Biomass
  • Environment*
  • Fermentation*
  • Geography
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Poaceae / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • United States


  • Nitrogen