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Genomic Science Program

Systems Biology for Energy and the Environment

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Genomic Science Program

2014 Awardee

Quantifying Phenotypic and Genetic Diversity of Miscanthus sacchariflorus to Facilitate Knowledge Directed Improvement of M. xgiganteus (M. sinensis x M. sacchariflorus) and Sugarcane

INVESTIGATORS: Erik Sacks (PI), Steve Long, Xiaoli Jin, Uffe Jørgensen, Toshihiko Yamada, Chang Yeon Yu

INSTITUTIONS: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Zheijiang University, Aarhus University, Hokkaido University, Kangwon National University

PROJECT SUMMARY: Bioenergy crops help reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. Miscanthus ×giganteus (Mxg) is a promising bioenergy crop because it produces high yields, needs few inputs, and grows well during the cool weather of early spring and late fall when few other warm-season grasses can. However, only a single, sterile vegetatively propagated cultivar of Mxg is currently available in the U.S. Such a reliance on only one cultivar is risky, because the emergence of a virulent disease or pest could damage or kill all plantings. Additionally, it should be possible to breed new Mxg cultivars that have even higher yields and are better adapted to U.S. environments than the current cultivar. Mxg is an interspecific hybrid of the parental species M. sacchariflorus (Msa) and M. sinensis (Msi). Msa is naturally found from central China to eastern Russia, in Korea, and in Japan. Msa includes the tallest and most cold-hardy populations of all Miscanthus. Populations of Msa from China, Japan, Korea and Russia may be different from each other, but there is little information available to help plant breeders choose the best populations or individuals for making improved biomass cultivars of Mxg. To address this need, we will study ~600 individuals of Msa from throughout its natural range. We will use next generation sequencing technology (RAD-Seq approach) to obtain thousands of DNA markers for each individual, which will allow us to determine population structure within Msa. We will also conduct field trials at multiple locations to evaluate yield-potential and adaptation of all the Msa individuals we collected. By combining the information on differences in DNA sequence with the data from the field trials, we will associate traits of interest with molecular markers. Such marker-trait associations can be used in the future to improve breeding efficiency, because selecting for markers at the seedling stage is faster and less expensive than obtaining field data for three or more years. Overall, this project will develop a valuable resource of plant materials and information that will enable plant breeders to quickly develop improved biomass cultivars of Mxg. Additionally, since Miscanthus can be crossed with sugarcane, this project will provide materials and data that will facilitate the development of more cold-hardy sugarcanes and energycanes.

Name: Sacks, Erik
Phone: 217-333-9327


Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function Summary of Projects Awarded

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy [01/19]

Lignocellulosic Biomass for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts: Workshop Report [2/15]

  • Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function DE-FOA-0002601 [12/16/21]
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