Winter hardiness of Miscanthus (II): Genetic mapping for overwintering ability and adaptation traits in three interconnected Miscanthus populations

Hongxu Dong, Siyao Liu, Lindsay V. Clark, Shailendra Sharma, Justin M. Gifford, John A. Juvik, Alexander E. Lipka, Erik J. Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Miscanthus × giganteus (M×g) is the primary species of Miscanthus for bioenergy feedstock production. The current leading biomass cultivar, M×g ‘1993-1780’, is insufficiently adapted in temperate regions with cold winters such as USDA hardiness zone 5 (average annual minimum temperature of −28.9 to −23.3°C) or lower. Three interconnected Miscanthus F 1 populations that shared a common parent were planted in a replicated field trial at Urbana, IL (hardiness zone 5b; average annual minimum temperature of −26.1 to −23.3°C) in spring 2011. The winter of 2013–2014 was especially cold in Urbana, with a minimum soil temperature at 10 cm of −6.2°C and a minimum air temperature of −25.3°C, giving us an opportunity to evaluate hardiness on established year-3 plants. The parent in common to all three populations, M. sinensis ssp. condensatus ‘Cosmopolitan’, is native to maritime southern Japan, and in Urbana, it is winter-damaged most years. In contrast, the three other parents, M. sacchariflorus ‘Robustus’ (MapA), M. sinensis ‘Silberturm’ (MapB), and M. sinensis ‘November Sunset’ (MapC), are typically winter hardy in Urbana. Nearly all MapA progeny plants survived and grew vigorously in spring 2014, whereas in MapB and MapC, many progeny plants did not survive the winter, and most of the survivors were severely damaged, with poor vigor. Negative correlations between overwintering ability and spring regrowth date and autumn dormancy date suggested that the genotypes most likely to survive winters were those that emerged early in spring and/or went dormant early in autumn. Using joint-population analysis, we identified 53 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for nine adaptation traits, including nine QTLs for overwintering ability and 11 for spring hardiness scores. Many biologically intuitive candidate genes were observed within or near the QTLs detected in this study, suggesting their validity and potential for further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-726
Number of pages21
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Miscanthus
  • QTL mapping
  • adaptation
  • hardiness
  • interconnected populations
  • overwintering ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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