For more than a thousand years, people have used Miscanthus from wild stands or managed landscapes, to feed their livestock, roof their homes, make paper, dye possessions, and beautify their gardens. In recent decades there has been a call to develop Miscanthus into a fully domesticated biomass crop for sustainable renewable energy needs. Miscanthus is broadly distributed throughout eastern Asia and the Pacific islands, ranging from southern Siberia to tropical Polynesia, with a current center of diversity in temperate northern latitudes. Adaptation to cold and temperate environments is a distinctive feature of Miscanthus relative to other Saccharinae, facilitating its potential to become an important biomass crop in Europe and the USA. Auto- and allopolyploidy have played a role in the evolution of Miscanthus and polyploidy will likely be of central importance for the development and improvement of this crop. Variation for flowering time, including short-day flower induction, will permit plant breeders to optimize local adaptation and biomass-yield of Miscanthus, just as they have done for maize, sorghum and sugarcane. Germplasm collections that are representative of the genus and publicly available need to be established and characterized. Questions of taxonomy, origins, and evolution need attention from the research community. A multidisciplinary approach that includes population genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and genomics will be needed to rapidly increase our knowledge of the Miscanthus gene pool, which will facilitate the development of improved cultivars.
- Centers of origin
- Interspecific hybridization
- Traditional uses
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)