Arundo donax (Giant Reed grass) Research

Pulang ---> Arundo donax --> Research

Commercial Use

Xumeng Ge, Fuqing Xu, Juliana Vasco-Correa, Yebo Li, Giant reed: A competitive energy crop in comparison with miscanthus, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 54, 2016, Pages 350-362, ISSN 1364-0321,

Arundo donax L. (giant reed) is a perennial rhizomatous grass and a promising energy crop due to its high biomass yield, adaptation to different types of soils and weather conditions, lower tillage requirement than traditional crops, and phytoremediation properties. This review is a comprehensive comparison of giant reed with miscanthus, a well-known energy crop, in terms of biomass production and conversion to bioenergy and bioproducts. Compared with miscanthus, giant reed has higher biomass yield and can adapt to a broader range of environments, but it requires more energy input for planting. Giant reed has a higher invasive potential than Miscanthus×giganteus, necessitating ecological control, such as preventing cultivation sites from flooding, strict nutrient management in surrounding areas, and removal of giant reed from riparian ecosystems adjacent to fire prone shrub lands. Generally, giant reed showed comparable yields to miscanthus in bioenergy production, but achieved better performance than miscanthus in production of particle boards, paper, and xylo-oligosaccharides. Suggested future research on giant reed includes testing multiple harvests per year, assessing environmental benefits and reducing potential hazards, evaluating advanced pretreatment technologies, integrating processes for producing different bioenergy/bioproducts, and investigating effects of management practices on the production of fuels and products.

GiR. Pilu, A. Bucci, F. C. Badone, M. Landoni (2012). Giant reed (Arundo donax L.): A weed plant or a promising energy crop? Biology African Journal of Biotechnology

Giant reed (Arundo donax) is a perennial rhizomatous grass which is widely diffused in subtropical and warm temperate regions. From its native area, probably Eastern Asia, it has been dispersed all over the world by humans who use it for multiple purposes such as roof thatching, reeds in woodwind instruments, fishing rods, etc. Its spontaneous and rapid growth allows A. donax to be considered as an invasive weed. But more recently, due to its high biomass production and great adaptability to marginal land, it is being seen as one of the most promising energy crops for lignocellulosic bioethanol production. A. donax is a sterile plant because it is a hybrid with uneven ploidy or triploid specie. Therefore, its propagation is strictly agamic by rhizome fragmentation and sprouting from cane nodes. The lack of sexual reproduction is a negative characteristic when we consider A. donax as an energy crop, since it makes genetic improvement difficult, and this is further limited by the absence of genome sequence information and the lack of specific molecular tools. In this review we will summarize and discuss recent data on A. donax, specifically its origins, genetics and possible utilization as a source of biomass.


Quinn, L.D., Holt, J.S. Ecological correlates of invasion by Arundo donax in three southern California riparian habitats. Biol Invasions 10, 591–601 (2008).

Arundo donax L. (Poaceae) is an aggressive invader in California’s riparian habitats. Field experiments were conducted to examine invader and site attributes important in early invasion. One hundred A. donax rhizomes were planted along five transects into each of three southern California riparian habitats. Pre-planting rhizome weight was recorded, along with site variables including percent bare ground, litter depth, PAR, soil moisture, soil temperature, incidence of herbivory, native canopy cover, and plant community richness and diversity. A. donax shoot emergence, survival time, and shoot height were recorded for approximately 10 months. The experiment was repeated over three years in different locations within each site. When years and sites were pooled to reveal large-scale patterns, A. donax performance was explained by rhizome weight, soil moisture, bare ground, soil temperature, and herbivory. When each site was considered singly, A. donax was positively correlated with different variables in each location. Species richness was correlated with A. donax performance in only one site. Our results indicate that A. donax establishment in riparian habitats is promoted by both vegetative reproduction and favorable abiotic environmental factors and relatively unaffected by the composition of the native community. The positive response of A. donax to disturbance (bare ground) and high resource availability (soil moisture), combined with a competitive perennial habit suggest that this species takes advantage of a competitive-ruderal life history. The ability of A. donax to respond to different conditions in each site combined with low genetic and phenotypic variation seen in other studies also suggests that a high degree of environmental tolerance contributes to invasion success.


Yaël Escobar, Fatiha Guermache, Marie-Claude Bon, Elven Kerdellant, Louis Petoux, Gaylord A. Desurmont, Biology, ecology, and impact of Cryptonevra nigritarsis Duda, a potential biological control agent against the giant reed Arundo donax, Biological Control, Volume 147, 2020, 104287, ISSN 1049-9644,

Arundo donax (L.), commonly known as giant reed, is an invasive weed in riparian habitats worldwide. The chloropid fly Cryptonevra nigritarsis Duda infests young shoots of A. donax in its native range and has been considered for a long time as a potential biological control agent. This study was designed to investigate the biology and field ecology of C. nigritarsis and document its impact on A. donax. Populations of A. donax were monitored in ten field sites for a full year and sticky traps were used to assess C. nigritarsis abundance. Young A. donax shoots with signs of infestation were dissected monthly, and a DNA-based diagnosis method was developed to assess the prevalence of C. nigritarsis among the larvae and pupae collected. Finally, a manipulative experiment was performed to evaluate the impact of water stress on A. donax vulnerability to C. nigritarsis. Results showed that C. nigritarsis is likely to be a multivoltine species overwintering mainly as pupa. Only 6.3% of the A. donax shoots monitored were infested and the overall prevalence of C. nigritarsis among the larvae and pupae collected was 54.3%. C. nigritarsis was found in shoots of all diameters and was the predominant species in very thin and very thick shoots. Thicker shoots had a greater probability of infestation by chloropid flies in general. The manipulative experiment showed that mortality of A. donax shoots in the presence of C. nigritarsis was higher is water-stressed plants, but overall shoot mortality and infestation were low. These results shed light on some important aspects on the biology and ecology of C. nigritarsis and help in evaluating its potential as a biological control agent.


Coffman, G.C., Ambrose, R.F. & Rundel, P.W. Wildfire promotes dominance of invasive giant reed (Arundo donax) in riparian ecosystems. Biol Invasions 12, 2723–2734 (2010).

Widespread invasion of riparian ecosystems by the large bamboo-like grass Arundo donax L. has altered community structure and ecological function of streams in California. This study evaluated the influence of wildfire on A. donax invasion by investigating its relative rate of reestablishment versus native riparian species after wildfire burned 300 ha of riparian woodlands along the Santa Clara River in southern California in October 2003. Post-fire A. donax growth rates and productivity were compared to those of native woody riparian species in plots established before and after the fire. Arundo donax resprouted within days after the fire and exhibited higher growth rates and productivity compared to native riparian plants. Arundo donax grew 3–4 times faster than native woody riparian plants—up to a mean of 2.62 cm day-1—and reached up to 2.3 m in height less than 3 months after the fire. One year post-fire, A. donax density was nearly 20 times higher and productivity was 14–24 times higher than for native woody species. Three mechanisms—fire-adapted phenology, high growth rate, and growth response to nutrient enrichment—appear to promote the preemption of native woody riparian species by A. donax after fire. This greater dominance of A. donax after wildfire increased the susceptibility of riparian woodlands along the Santa Clara River to subsequent fire, potentially creating an invasive plant-fire regime cycle. Moreover, A. donax infestations appear to have allowed the wildfire to cross the broad bed of the Santa Clara River from the north, allowing thousands of acres of shrubland to the south to burn.


Lloyd L. Nackley, Kristiina A. Vogt, Soo-Hyung Kim, Arundo donax water use and photosynthetic responses to drought and elevated CO2, Agricultural Water Management, Volume 136, 2014, Pages 13-22, ISSN 0378-3774,

Arundo donax L., commonly known as giant reed or Carrizo grande, has been identified as an excellent biomass feedstock, because of its high yields delivered from low nutrient inputs. Two criticisms of cultivating A. donax are that it has a history of biological invasion, and also that it may require great quantities of water to sustain its rapid growth. Yet, there is little research reported quantifying the water-use requirements; and it is unknown how growth and water-use will be altered by the atmospheric enrichment of carbon dioxide (CO2) in combination with drought, two environmental conditions that have been predicted to occur in regions where A. donax is cultivated or has colonized. An experiment using close-topped CO2 chambers was conducted to study the interactive effects of elevated CO2 and limited water on A. donax growth and leaf physiology. Enrichment of atmospheric CO2 from 400 to 800 µmol mol-1 decreased transpiration rates by 100% (p < 0.05). Reduced transpiration delayed drought responses and extended periods of assimilation, but ultimately could not prevent desiccation and photosynthetic decline during extreme drought. Reduced transpiration also increased water use efficiencies (WUE). A linear model created from whole-plant water use estimates A. donax consumption at 186,500 and 139,500 L H2O Mg-1 (11.65 and 8.72 L H2O MJ-1), at 400 µmol mol-1 or 800 µmol mol-1 CO2 respectively. The improved WUE of plants grown in high CO2 was still less than values reported for Miscanthus, a C4 bioenergy feedstock. Moreover, comparisons between A. donax stable carbon isotope (13C) discrimination and values reported for other C3 species suggest that A. donax has relatively high conductance levels, and will likely transpire more water than most species. These findings present the first reported values for A. donax water-use in response to atmospheric enrichment of CO2.


Quinn, L., & Holt, J. (2009). Restoration for Resistance to Invasion by Giant Reed (Arundo donax). Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2(4), 279-291. doi:10.1614/IPSM-09-001.1

The relationship between plant community composition and invasibility has been studied extensively but seldom in the context of ecosystem restoration. Experimental riparian restoration plots differing in species composition and density were established and evaluated for susceptibility to invasion by giant reed, a common riparian invader in California, and natural recruitment by riparian species over time. Plots were planted in 2002 with cuttings of common threesquare (a sedge), seepwillow (a shrub), and Goodding's willow (a tree) at two densities in monoculture and all possible mixture combinations. Giant reed rhizomes were introduced into half of the plots in the spring of 2003, while the remaining plots were allowed to undergo natural recruitment for an additional year. In late winter 2004, giant reed rhizomes were planted in the remaining plots. Both planting groups were followed for one growing season to evaluate giant reed establishment, survival, and growth. Community composition affected giant reed performance, particularly in 2003 before natural recruitment occurred. In that year, plots containing seepwillow + willow had the lowest giant reed shoot production, growth, and survival. All plots containing seepwillow were resistant to colonization by natural recruitment in 2004, but none of the planting treatments affected giant reed success in that year. Giant reed was more successful overall in 2004 despite deeper shade and drier soils. This pattern could be attributed to larger initial rhizome size in 2004, which allowed giant reed to overcome environmental stress during establishment. Planting density did not impact giant reed or natural recruitment independently, but may affect environmental parameters and warrants further study as a potential contributor to restoration success. Our results indicate that choice of species composition in restoration might impact giant reed invasion success initially, but community resistance might not be sustainable and maintenance-free over time.

Summaries and Reviews

Adam M. Lambert, Tom L. Dudley, and Kristin Saltonstall "Ecology and Impacts of the Large-Statured Invasive Grasses Arundo donax and Phragmites australis in North America," Invasive Plant Science and Management 3(4), 489-494, (1 October 2010).

Large-statured invasive grasses (LSIGs) constitute a distinct functional group with characteristic life history traits that facilitate colonization and aggressive growth in aquatic ecosystems, particularly those modified by human activities. These species typically form monocultures in the systems they invade and have wide-ranging and negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem processes. In March 2008, a special symposium was held as part of the Western Society of Weed Scientists annual meeting to synthesize our current knowledge of the ecological impacts and management of two notorious LSIGs: Arundo donax and Phragmites australis. In this volume of Invasive Plant Science and Management, symposium participants provide articles summarizing existing knowledge, recent research progress, and research needs for these two taxa. Here, we summarize the basic biology of these species and suggest the use of a more holistic approach to deal with the effects and management of LSIG invasions.

Penulis: A. Sunjian