CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Miscanthus grasses are used in gardens, burned for heat and energy, and converted into liquid fuels. They also belong to a prominent grass family that includes corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Two new, independently produced chromosome maps of Miscanthus sinensis (an ornamental that likely is a parent of Miscanthus giganteus, a biofuels crop) are a first step toward sequencing the M. sinensis genome. The studies reveal how a new plant species with distinctive traits can arise as a result of chromosome duplications and fusions.
The two studies were published this year: The first, led by the energy crop company Ceres, appeared in the journal PLoS ONE; the second, from a team led by researchers at the University of Illinois, is in the journal BMC Genomics. The data, materials, methods and genetic markers used in the latter study are available to the public for further research.
Before this work, scientists knew that M. sinensis had a base set of 19 chromosomes and was closely related to sorghum, which has a base set of 10. (Humans have a base set of 23). But without a map and sequence of the Miscanthus genome, researchers who hope to maximize yields or discover which genes give Miscanthus its desirable traits are working in the dark, said Stephen Moose, a University of Illinois crop sciences professor and Energy Biosciences Institute program leader who led the BMC Genomics study.
Moose and his colleagues used information gleaned from the sugarcane genome to develop hundreds of genetic markers to target specific regions of the M. sinensis
|Contact: Diana Yates|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign