• Open Access

The ecology and agronomy of Miscanthus sinensis, a species important to bioenergy crop development, in its native range in Japan: a review


J. Ryan Stewart, tel. +1 217 265 5461, fax +1 217 244 3469, e-mail: rstewart@illinois.edu


Among several candidate perennial taxa, Miscanthus×giganteus has been evaluated and promoted as a promising bioenergy crop. Owing to several limitations, however, of the sterile hybrid, both at the taxon and agronomic production levels, other options need to be explored to not only improve M. ×giganteus, which was originally collected in Japan, but to also consider the development of other members of its genus, including Miscanthus sinensis, as bioenergy crops. Indeed, there is likely much to be learned and applied to Miscanthus as a bioenergy crop from the long history of intensive interaction between humans and M. sinensis in Japan, which in some regions of the country spans several thousand years. Combined with its high amount of genetic variation, stress tolerance, biotic interactions with fauna, and function as a keystone species in diverse grasslands and other ecosystems within its native range, the unique and extensive management of M. sinensis in Japan as a forage grass and building material provides agronomists, agroecologists, and plant breeders with the capability of better understanding this species in terms of potential contribution to bioenergy crop development. Moreover, the studies described in this review may serve as a platform for future research of Miscanthus as a bioenergy crop in other parts of the world.