Don’t Mess with Switchgrass!

Recently observed in lab: switchgrass roots can break steel!

Late-season switchgrass roots were dried and cut pieces prior to grinding for the MMPRNT project, and were to be ground by being rolled for 3-7 days on what we liken to be a supped-up hot dog roller. The tumbler, seen above, is put inside the vials so that the root tissue gradually gets ground during its stay on the roller. Most of the time, the roots are the ones getting pulverized. This time, however, the roots showed us that they are not ones to be taken lightly. One rock-hard chunk of root wedged its way into the groove in this tumbler and carved a chunk out of it during a week long rolling session. Said root had to be forcibly removed from the tumbler with forceps back in the lab.

The glass vial was also cracked during the root’s battle with the tumbler…

Other samples from late in the season had similar rock hard roots that managed to crack their vials, but none of them managed to break the steel tumbler (yet).