BACKGROUND: Miscanthus, which is a leading dedicated-energy grass in Europe and in parts of Asia, is expected to play a key role in the development of the future bioeconomy. However, due to its complex genetic background, it is difficult to investigate phylogenetic relationships in this genus. Here, we investigated 50 Miscanthus germplasms: 1 female parent (M. lutarioriparius), 30 candidate male parents (M. lutarioriparius, M. sinensis, and M. sacchariflorus), and 19 offspring. We used high-throughput Specific-Locus Amplified Fragment sequencing (SLAF-seq) to identify informative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in all germplasms.
RESULTS: We identified 257,889 SLAF tags, of which 87,162 were polymorphic. Each tag was 264-364 bp long. The obtained 724,773 population SNPs were used to investigate genetic relationships within three species of Miscanthus. We constructed a phylogenetic tree of the 50 germplasms using the obtained SNPs and grouped them into two clades: one clade comprised of M. sinensis alone and the other one included the offspring, M. lutarioriparius, and M. sacchariflorus. Genetic cluster analysis had revealed that M. lutarioriparius germplasm C3 was the most likely male parent of the offspring.
CONCLUSIONS: As a high-throughput sequencing method, SLAF-seq can be used to identify informative SNPs in Miscanthus germplasms and to rapidly characterize genetic relationships within this genus. Our results will support the development of breeding programs with the focus on utilizing Miscanthus cultivars with elite biomass- or fiber-production potential for the developing bioeconomy.