Genetic complexity of miscanthus cell wall composition and biomass quality for biofuels

Tim van der Weijde, Claire Lessa Alvim Kamei, Eduard Severing, Andres Francisco Torres Salvador, Leonardo D. Gomez, Oene Dolstra, Chris A. Maliepaard, Simon J. McQueen-Mason, Richard G.F. Visser, Luisa M. Trindade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Miscanthus sinensis is a high yielding perennial grass species with great potential as a bioenergy feedstock. One of the challenges that currently impedes commercial cellulosic biofuel production is the technical difficulty to efficiently convert lignocellulosic biomass into biofuel. The development of feedstocks with better biomass quality will improve conversion efficiency and the sustainability of the value-chain. Progress in the genetic improvement of biomass quality may be substantially expedited by the development of genetic markers associated to quality traits, which can be used in a marker-assisted selection program. Results: To this end, a mapping population was developed by crossing two parents of contrasting cell wall composition. The performance of 182 F1 offspring individuals along with the parents was evaluated in a field trial with a randomized block design with three replicates. Plants were phenotyped for cell wall composition and conversion efficiency characters in the second and third growth season after establishment. A new SNP-based genetic map for M. sinensis was built using a genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) approach, which resulted in 464 short-sequence uniparental markers that formed 16 linkage groups in the male map and 17 linkage groups in the female map. A total of 86 QTLs for a variety of biomass quality characteristics were identified, 20 of which were detected in both growth seasons. Twenty QTLs were directly associated to different conversion efficiency characters. Marker sequences were aligned to the sorghum reference genome to facilitate cross-species comparisons. Analyses revealed that for some traits previously identified QTLs in sorghum occurred in homologous regions on the same chromosome. Conclusion: In this work we report for the first time the genetic mapping of cell wall composition and bioconversion traits in the bioenergy crop miscanthus. These results are a first step towards the development of marker-assisted selection programs in miscanthus to improve biomass quality and facilitate its use as feedstock for biofuel production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number406
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Biofuel
  • Biomass quality
  • Cell wall composition
  • Conversion efficiency
  • Genetic map
  • Miscanthus
  • Quantitative trait loci (QTL)
  • Saccharification efficiency
  • Yield


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