One of the most crucial sustainability challenges facing climate and agriculture researchers is how to reduce the global carbon footprint. One way University of Georgia researchers are helping to meet this challenge is through an incredibly common resource: switchgrass.

A perennial warm season crop native to North America, switchgrass is an ideal feedstock for bioenergy production due to its high yield and high water-use efficiency. In collaboration with the Department of Energy-funded Center for Bioenergy Innovation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UGA scientists like Associate Professor Ali Missaoui (featured in this video) and many others are pursuing research to optimize the crop as a biofuel resource.

At Iron Horse, Missouai leads UGA’s efforts to breed new varieties of switchgrass that demonstrate increased yield and biomass composition, enhanced disease resilience, and increased tolerance to drought and other biotic and abiotic stress.

The switchgrass breeding program is just one aspect of UGA’s multi-pronged research efforts to make widespread use of biofuels in aviation and other modes of transportation a reality.