Genetic structure of Miscanthus sinensis and Miscanthus sacchariflorus in Japan indicates a gradient of bidirectional but asymmetric introgression

Lindsay V. Clark, J. Ryan Stewart, Aya Nishiwaki, Yo Toma, Jens Bonderup Kjeldsen, Uffe Jørgensen, Hua Zhao, Junhua Peng, Ji Hye Yoo, Kweon Heo, Chang Yeon Yu, Toshihiko Yamada, Erik J. Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Unilateral introgression from diploids to tetraploids has been hypothesized to be an important evolutionary mechanism in plants. However, few examples have been definitively identified, perhaps because data of sufficient depth and breadth were difficult to obtain before the advent of affordable high-density genotyping. Throughout Japan, tetraploid Miscanthus sacchariflorus and diploid Miscanthus sinensis are common, and occasionally hybridize. In this study, 667 M. sinensis and 78 M. sacchariflorus genotypes from Japan were characterized using 20 704 SNPs and ten plastid microsatellites. Similarity of SNP genotypes between diploid and tetraploid M. sacchariflorus indicated that the tetraploids originated through autopolyploidy. Structure analysis indicated a gradient of introgression from diploid M. sinensis into tetraploid M. sacchariflorus throughout Japan; most tetraploids had some M. sinensis DNA. Among phenotypically M. sacchariflorus tetraploids, M. sinensis ancestry averaged 7% and ranged from 1-39%, with introgression greatest in southern Japan. Unexpectedly, rare (~1%) diploid M. sinensis individuals from northern Japan were found with 6-27% M. sacchariflorus ancestry. Population structure of M. sinensis in Japan included three groups, and was driven primarily by distance, and secondarily by geographic barriers such as mountains and straits. Miscanthus speciation is a complex and dynamic process. In contrast to limited introgression between diploid M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis in northern China, selection for adaptation to a moderate maritime climate probably favoured cross-ploidy introgressants in southern Japan. These results will help guide the selection of Miscanthus accessions for the breeding of biomass cultivars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4213-4225
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2015


  • Biomass crop
  • Cross-ploidy introgression
  • Hybridization
  • Poaceae
  • Polyploidy
  • Population genetics
  • RAD-seq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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