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GCB Bioenergy

Cover image for Vol. 9 Issue 6

Edited By: Steve Long

Impact Factor: 6.151

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 1/83 (Agronomy); 9/88 (Energy & Fuels)

Online ISSN: 1757-1707

Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology

Genetic structure of Miscanthus sinensis


Genetic structure of Miscanthus sinensis

Miscanthus is a promising bioenergy feedstock because of its high yield and low input requirements. Miscanthus is undomesticated and could therefore greatly benefit from genetic improvement. Yet, traditional breeding for improvement is slow and is difficult for Miscanthus in particular because Miscanthus plants mix genetic material (outcross), resulting in seeds derived from multiple pollen sources.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of genetic and phenotypic diversity present within Miscanthus. By genotyping a germplasm (collection of genetically different plants) and attributing those genes to phenotypes, favorable genes can be used to direct breeding approaches.

Slavov and coauthors analyzed the genetic structure of 244 genotypes of M. sinensis, M. sacchariflorus, and M. x giganteus and their phenotypic traits in an attempt to link genotypes with phenotypes. DNA was extracted from leaves of each of the 244 genotypes. Molecular markers (a short DNA sequence) were used to differentiate and determine the genetic relationships between each genotype. Phenology, morphology/biomass, and cell wall composition were determined for each genotype. The molecular maker data was then associated with each phenotypic trait.

The authors found that the genetic variation within the 244 genotypes was significantly associated with geographic origin. Much of the genetic variation in the markers, which indicate genetic relationship, was accounted for by the longitudes of the source material. In contrast, the variation for phenotypic traits followed latitudinal and altitudinal gradients of the source material.

This study provides information about geographic patterns of genetic variation. These geographic trends provide clues that will guide the identification of the direct agents of natural selection (e.g. climatic factors) thereby bringing insights into the mechanisms of local adaptation in M. sinensis and informing breeding efforts for current and future climates.

Slavov, G., Robson, P., Jensen, E., Hodgson, E., Farrar, K., Allison, G., Hawkins, S., Thomas-Jones, S., Ma, X.-F., Huang, L., Swaller, T., Flavell, R., Clifton-Brown, J. and Donnison, I. (2013), Contrasting geographic patterns of genetic variation for molecular markers vs. phenotypic traits in the energy grass Miscanthus sinensis. GCB Bioenergy, 5: 562–571. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12025

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