Prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link) is a native perennial warm-season (C4) grass common in North American prairies. With its high biomass yield and abiotic stress tolerance, there is a high potential of developing prairie cordgrass for conservation practices and as a dedicated bioenergy crop for sustainable cellulosic biofuel production. However, as with many other undomesticated grass species, little information is known about the genetic diversity or population structure of prairie cordgrass natural populations as compared to their ecotypic and geographic adaptation in North America. In this study, we sampled and characterized a total of 96 prairie cordgrass natural populations with 9315 high quality SNPs from a genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) approach. The natural populations were collected from putative remnant prairie sites throughout the Midwest and Eastern USA, which are the major habitats for prairie cordgrass. Partitioning of genetic variance using SNP marker data revealed significant variance among and within populations. Two potential gene pools were identified as being associated with ploidy levels, geographical separation, and climatic separation. Geographical factors such as longitude and altitude, and environmental factors such as annual temperature, annual precipitation, temperature of the warmest month, precipitation of the wettest month, precipitation of Spring, and precipitation of the wettest month are important in affecting the intraspecific distribution of prairie cordgrass. The divergence of prairie cordgrass natural populations also provides opportunities to increase breeding value of prairie cordgrass as a bioenergy and conservation crop.
- Prairie cordgrass
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