Jeff Volenec

Jeffrey J Volenec

Professor of Agronomy

 Department: Agronomy

Phone: 765.494.8071
Fax: 765.496.2926
Office: Lilly 2-327
Area of Expertise: Crop Ecophysiology​

Curriculum Vitae​

Research Areas

Our research goal is to understand the physiological basis for differences in growth, yield, and stress tolerance of crops and to characterize the environmental impacts of cropping systems including input use efficiencies (N, water, PAR). ​

Examples of current research include: 

Characterize mechanisms controlling synthesis and degradation of organic reserves and understand their role in plant growth and stress tolerance. 

Conduct comparative analysis of water and nitrogen use by cropping systems. These analyses aim to identify those species/systems that maximize production while minimizing environmental impacts.

Determine the physiological and ecological mechanisms controlling abiotic stress tolerance of plants.

Understand water and nutrient use efficiencies in crop plants and the underlying physiological, ecological and biochemical drivers of these traits. 

Examples of Dr. Volenec's Publications (see his CV​​​ for a complete listing)

Volenec, J.J., and C.J. Nelson. 1982. Carbohydrate metabolism in leaf meristems of tall fescue. I. Relationship to genetically altered leaf elongation rates. Plant Physiol. 74:590-594.

Volenec, J.J., C.J. Nelson, and D.A. Sleper. 1984.  Influence of temperature on leaf dark respiration of tall fescue genotypes. Crop Sci. 24: 907-912.

Volenec, J.J., H.T. Nguyen, C.J. Nelson, and D.A. Sleper. 1984. Potential for genetically modifying dark respiration of tall fescue leaves. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 176:387-399.

Cherney, J.H., K. J. Moore, J.J. Volenec, and J.D. Axtell. 1986. Rate and extent of digestion of cell wall components of brown-midrib sorghum species. Crop Sci. 26: 1055-1059.

Volenec, J.J., J.H. Cherney, and K.D. Johnson. 1987. Yield components, plant morphology, and forage quality of alfalfa as influenced by plant population. Crop Sci. 27: 321-326.

MacAdam, J.W., J.J. Volenec, and C.J. Nelson. 1989. Effects of nitrogen on mesophyll cell division and epidermal cell elongation in tall fescue leaf blades. Plant Physiol. 89:549-556.

Fankhauser, Jr., J.J., J.J. Volenec. 1989. Root vs. shoot effects on herbage regrowth and carbohydrate metabolism of alfalfa. Crop Sci. 29:735-740.

Fankhauser, Jr., J.J., J.J. Volenec, and G.A. Brown. 1989. Composition and structure of starch from taproots of contrasting genotypes of Medicago sativa L. Plant Physiol. 90:1189-1194.

Brown, G.A., and J.J. Volenec. 1989. Isolation and molecular composition of starch from roots of Medicago sativa L. Starch 41:247-250.

Habben, J.E., and J.J. Volenec. 1990. Starch grain distribution in taproots of defoliated Medicago sativa L. Plant Physiol. 94:1056-1061.

Cherney, J.H., K.D. Johnson, J.J. Volenec, and D.K. Greene. 1991. Biomass potential of selected grass and legume crops. Energy Sources. 13:283-292.

Boyce, P.J., and J.J. Volenec. 1992. Purification and partial characterization of β-amylase from alfalfa taproots. Phytochem. 31:427-431.

Boyce, P.J., and J.J. Volenec. 1992. Taproot carbohydrate concentrations and stress tolerance of alfalfa. Crop Sci. 32:757-761.

Cherney, J.H., and J.J. Volenec. 1992. Forage evaluation as influenced by environmental replication (Review article). Crop Sci. 32:841-846.

Hendershot, K.L., and J.J. Volenec. 1993. Taproot nitrogen accumulation and use in overwintering alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). J. Plant Physiol. 141:68-74. 

Cunningham, S.M., and J.J. Volenec. 1996. Purification and characterization of vegetative storage proteins from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) taproots. J. Plant Physiol. 147:625- 632.

Volenec, J.J., A. Ourry, and B.C. Joern. 1996. A role for nitrogen reserves in forage regrowth and stress tolerance. Physiol. Plant. 97:185-193.

Gana, J.A., N.E. Kalengamaliro, S.M. Cunningham, and J.J. Volenec. 1998. Expression of an alfalfa β-amylase gene. Plant Physiol. 118:1495-1505.

Kalengamaliro, N.E., J.A. Gana, S.M. Cunningham, and J.J. Volenec. 2000. Mechanisms regulating differential freezing tolerance of suspension cell cultures derived from contrasting alfalfa genotypes. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Culture 61:143-151.

Cunningham, S.M., J.A. Gana, J.J. Volenec, and L.R. Teuber. 2001. Winter hardiness, root physiology, and gene expression in successive fall dormancy selections from 'Mesilla' and 'CUF 101' alfalfa. Crop Sci. 41:1091-1098. 

Volenec, J.J., S.M. Cunningham, D.M. Haagenson, W.K. Berg, B.C. Joern, and D.W. Wiersma. 2002. Physiological genetics of alfalfa improvement: past failures and future prospects. Field Crops Res. 75:97-110.

Haagenson, D.M., S.M. Cunningham, B.C. Joern and J.J. Volenec. 2003. Autumn defoliation effects on alfalfa winter survival, root physiology, and gene expression. Crop Sci. 43:1340-1348.

Cunningham, S.M., P. Nadeau, Y. Castonguay, S. Leberge and J.J. Volenec. 2003. Raffinose and stachyose accumulation, galactinol synthase expression, and winter injury of contrasting Medicago sativa germplasms. Crop Sci. 43:562-570.

Kalengamaliro, N.E., S.M. Cunningham and J.J. Volenec. 2003. Growth, sugar accumulation, and dark respiration of suspension cell cultures derived from contrasting alfalfa cultivars. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Cult. 72:163-171.

Abu Qamar, S.F., T.G. Sors, S.M. Cunningham, B.C. Joern, and J.J. Volenec. 2005. Phosphate nutrition effects on growth, phosphate transporter transcript levels and physiology of alfalfa cells. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Cult. 82:131-140.

Castonguay, Y., S. Laberge, E.C. Brummer, and J.J. Volenec. 2006. Alfalfa winter hardiness: A research retrospective and integrated perspective. Adv. Agron. 90:203-265.

Berg, W.K., S.M. Cunningham, S.M. Brouder, K.D. Johnson, B.C. Joern, and J.J. Volenec. 2007. The long-term impact of phosphorus and potassium fertilization on alfalfa yield and yield components. Crop Sci. 47:2198-2209.

Patton, A.J., S.M. Cunningham, J.J. Volenec, and Z.J. Reicher. 2007. Differences in freeze tolerance of zoysiagrasses. I. Role of Proteins. Crop Sci. 47:2162-2169.

Brouder, S.M. and J.J. Volenec. 2008. Impact of climate change on crop nutrient and water use efficiencies. Physiol. Plant. 133:705-724.

Berg, W.K., S.M. Cunningham, S.M. Brouder, B.C. Joern, K.D. Johnson, J.J. Volenec. 2009. Influence of phosphorus and potassium on alfalfa yield, taproot C and N pools, and transcript levels of key genes after defoliation. Crop Sci. 49:974-982.

Lissbrant, S., S.M. Brouder, S.M. Cunningham, and J.J. Volenec. 2010. Identification of fertility regimes that enhance long-term productivity of alfalfa using cluster analysis. Agron. J. 102:580-591.

Pembleton, K.G., S.M. Cunningham, and J.J Volenec. 2010. Effect of summer irrigation on seasonal changes in taproot reserves and the expression of winter dormancy/activity in four contrasting lucerne cultivars. Crop Pasture Sci. 61:873-884.

Fernández, F.G., S.M. Brouder, C.A. Beyrouty, J.J. Volenec, and R. Hoyum. 2011. Soybean shoot and root response to localized water and potassium in a split-pot study. Plant and Soil 344:197-212.

Rutledge, J.M.,  J.J. Volenec, R.H. Hurley, and Z.J. Reicher. 2012.  Seasonal changes in morphology and physiology or roughstalk bluegrass. Crop Sci. 52: 858-868.

Woodson, P., J.J. Volenec, and S.M. Brouder. 2013. Field-scale potassium and phosphorus fluxes in bioenergy crop switchgrass: Theoretical energy yields and management implications. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 176:387-399.

Trybula, E.M., C. Raj, J.L. Burks, , I. Chaubey, S.M. Brouder, and J.J. Volenec. 2014. Perennial rhizomatous grasses as bioenergy feedstock in SWAT: parameter development and model improvement. Glob. Change Biol. Bioenergy DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12210

Moore, K.J., S. Birell, R.C. Brown, M.D. Casler, J.E. Euken, H.M. Hanna, D.J. Hayes, J.D. Hill, K.L. Jacobs, C.L. Kling, D. Laird, R.B. Mitchell, P.T. Murphy, D.R. Raman, C.V. Schwab, K. J. Shinners, K.P. Vogel, and J.J. Volenec. 2015. Midwest vision for sustainable fuel production. Biofuels. (DOI:10.1080/17597269.1015312). 16 pp.

Feng, Q., I. Chaubey, Y.G. Her, R. Cibin, B. Engel, J.J. Volenec, X. Wang. 2015. Hydrologic and water quality impacts and biomass production potential on marginal land. Env. Model. Software 72:230-38.


Berg, W. K., S. Lissbrant, J.J. Volenec, S.M. Brouder, B.C. Joern, K.D. Johnson, and S.M. Cunningham. 2012. Phosphorus and potassium influence on alflalfa nutrition. Purdue University Research Repository. DOI: 10.4231/D3251FJ7S.

Brouder, S., De Armond, N., Turco, R., Volenec, J. 2014. Maize grain yield record for the WQFS (1995-2012). Purdue University Research Repository. DOI: 10.4231/R7RN35SJ.


The goal of extension work is to provide the public with information on yield, quality, and persistence of perennial plants used for forage or biomass, especially as influenced by management and genetics.


AGRY 52500 - Crop Physiology and Ecology
Dr. Volenec has developed Agronomy 525 to provide advanced undergraduate and graduate students with training in crop physiology. Volenec expands the knowledge acquired in plant physiology and biochemistry courses to address challenges encountered in management and genetic improvement of crops.

Professional Experience

1993-1994, Research Fellow, AFRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK
1992-2009, Assistant Head, Agronomy Department, Purdue University
1992-present, Professor, Agronomy Department, Purdue University
1987-1992, Associate Professor, Agronomy Department, Purdue University
1983-1987, Assistant Professor, Agronomy Department, Purdue University
1979-1983, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Missouri
1975-1979, Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin

Awards and Honors

2013-2015 Board of Directors, Agronomic Science Foundation
2013 Past President, Crop Science Society of America
2012 President, Crop Science Society of America
2011-2013 Board of Directors, Alliance of Crops, Soils and Environmental Science Societies, Chair 2013
2011-2014 Section Affiliate, Biological Sciences and Agriculture, Am. Assoc. Adv. Sci.​
2011, President Elect, Crop Science Society of America
2008-2010, Program Planning Officer, American Society of Agronomy
2006-present, Graduate Research Faculty Member, University of Tasmania
2006, Certificant of Distinction, e-Courseware Development, Amer. Soc. Agronomy
2005-2011, Nonresident Fellow, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
2005, Outstanding Teaching Award, Dept. of Agronomy (also 1994, 1997, 2001, 2004)
2002, Outstanding Counselor Award, Dept. of Agronomy  (also 2000)
1998-2003, Editor-in-Chief, Crop Science Society of America
1998, Merit Award, American Forage and Grassland Council
1997, Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1994-1998, Editor, Crop Science
1993, CIBA-GEIGY Award in Agronomy
1993, Fellow, American Society of Agronomy
1993, Fellow, Crop Science Society of America
1993, Purdue University Agricultural Research Award
1992, Young Crop Scientist Award, Crop Science Society of America
1992-1993, Fellow, Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP)
1991, Indiana Forage Council Merit Award for Outstanding Contributions in Forage Science


B.Sc., University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.Sc., University of Missouri-Columbia
Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
Date joined staff:  May 1983

Department of Agronomy, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2053 USA, (765) 494-4773

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