Accelerating the domestication of a bioenergy crop: identifying and modelling morphological targets for sustainable yield increase in Miscanthus

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4143-4155
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Volume64
Issue number14
Early online date24 Sep 2013
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 2013
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Abstract

To accelerate domestication of Miscanthus, an important energy crop, 244 replicated genotypes, including two different species and their hybrids, were analysed for morphological traits and biomass yield over three growing seasons following an establishment phase of 2 years in the largest Miscanthus diversity trial described to date. Stem and leaf traits were selected that contributed both directly and indirectly to total harvested biomass yield, and there was variation in all traits measured. Morphological diversity within the population was correlated with dry matter yield (DMY) both as individual traits and in combination, in order to determine the respective contributions of the traits to biomass accumulation and to identify breeding targets for yield improvement. Predictive morphometric analysis was possible at year 3 within Miscanthus sinensis genotypes but not between M. sinensis, Miscanthus sacchariflorus, and interspecific hybrids. Yield is a complex trait, and no single simple trait explained more than 33% of DMY, which varied from 1 to 5297g among genotypes within this trial. Associating simple traits increased the power of the morphological data to predict yield to 60%. Trait variety, in combination, enabled multiple ideotypes, thereby increasing the potential diversity of the crop for multiple growth locations and end uses. Both triploids and interspecific hybrids produced the highest mature yields, indicating that there is significant heterosis to be exploited within Miscanthus that might be overlooked in early selection screens within years 1–3. The potential for optimizing biomass yield by selecting on the basis of morphology is discussed.
Yield is a complex trait and no single simple trait explained more than 33% of DMY. Associating simple traits increased the power of the morphological data to predict yield to 60%. Modelling combinations of simple morphological traits provided multiple routes to high yield, with the two species and their hybrids requiring different models. Trait variety provided routes to different ideotypes, thereby increasing the potential diversity of the crop for multiple end uses. Both triploids and interspecific hybrids produced the highest mature yields, demonstrating that there is significant heterosis to be exploited within Miscanthus which might be overlooked in early selection screens within years 1-3. The potential for optimising biomass yield by selecting on the basis of morphology is discussed.

Keywords

  • bioenergy, biomass yield, domestication, Miscanthus, morphology, trait diversity