J Syst Evol ›› 2019, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (5): 530-542.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12497

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Population genetics and evolutionary history of Miscanthus species in China

Shan-Shan Li1,2, Hai-Fei Zhou1, Wen-Li Chen1, Juan Yan4, Zhe Cai1, Ruo-Xun Wei1, Chih-Hui Chen5, Bin Han6, Jian-Qiang Li4, Tao Sang1, and Song Ge1,3*   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2Dezhou College, Dezhou 253000, Shandong, China
    3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Speciality Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    5Endemic Species Research Institute, Nantou, Taiwan, China
    6National Center for Gene Research and Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200233, China
  • Received:2018-11-07 Accepted:2019-03-11 Online:2019-07-22 Published:2019-09-01


Miscanthus species have received considerable attention as a potential biomass source for renewable energy production because of their ability to produce high yields of biomass and adapt to a wide range of climates and soils. To explore the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship of Miscanthus species in China, we used 24 simple sequence repeat markers to genotype 100 natural populations representing all four Chinese Miscanthus species (M. sinensis Andersson, M. floridulus (Lab.) Warb. ex K. Schum. & Lauterb., M. sacchariflorus (Maxim.) Hack., and M. lutarioriparius L. Liu ex Renvoize & S. L. Chen). Based on phylogenetic, principal coordinate, and Structure analyses, we found that the 100 populations formed two major groups corresponding to sect. Triarrhena and sect. Miscanthus. Group 1 (i.e., sect. Triarrhena) was further subdivided into two subgroups corresponding to M. sacchariflorus and M. lutarioriparius; Group 2 (i.e., sect. Miscanthus) was subdivided into three subgroups, group 2a (M. sinensis populations in southern China), group 2b (M. sinensis populations in northern China), and group 2c (all the M. floridulus populations). Population genetics analyses indicated high levels of the genetic diversity at both population (HE = 0.468–0.599) and species (HE = 0.559–0.708) levels, indicative of the potential of these wild resources in future breeding programs. The species distribution modeling showed that M. sacchariflorus and M. lutarioriparius have experienced population reductions during the last glacial maximum and population expansion afterward; in contrast, M. sinensis and M. floridulus both underwent gradual population expansions from the last interglaciation to the present. We also suggest that M. floridulus originated from M. sinensis in southeast China through ecological speciation. The understanding of the evolutionary history and population dynamics of these species not only provides valuable information for further genetic improvement and breeding of this energy crop but also gives important insights into the origin and speciation processes of the Miscanthus species.

Key words: energy crop, genetic structure, Miscanthus, population dynamics, speciation