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2019, DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12599

Siberian Miscanthus sacchariflorus accessions surpass the exceptional chilling tolerance of the most widely cultivated clone of Miscanthus x giganteus

GCB Bioenergy

Charles P. Pignon, Idan Spitz, Erik J. Sacks, Uffe Jørgensen, Kirsten Kørup, and Stephen P. Long


Chilling temperatures (0–15°C) inhibit photosynthesis in most C4 grasses, yet photosynthesis is chilling tolerant in the ‘Illinois’ clone of the C4 grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a candidate cellulosic bioenergy crop. M. x giganteus is a hybrid between Miscanthus sacchariflorus and Miscanthus sinensis; therefore chilling‐tolerant parent lines might produce hybrids superior to the current clone. Recently a collection of M. sacchariflorus from Siberia, the apparent low temperature limit of natural distribution,became available, which may be a source for chilling tolerance. The collection was screened for chilling tolerance of photosynthesis by measuring dark‐adapted maximum quantum yield of PSII photochemistry (Fv/Fm) on plants in the field in cool weather. Superior accessions were selected for further phenotyping: plants were grown at 25°C, transferred to 10°C (chilling) for 15 days, and returned to 25°C for 7 days (recovery). Two experiments assessed: (a) light‐saturated net photosynthetic rate (Asat) and operating quantum yield of PSII photochemistry (ΦPSII), (b) response of net leaf CO2 uptake (A) to intercellular [CO2] (ci). Three accessions showed superior chilling tolerance: RU2012‐069 and RU2012‐114 achieved Asat up to double that of M. x giganteus prior to and during chilling, due to increased ci ‐ saturated photosynthesis (Vmax). RU2012‐069 and RU2012‐114 also maintained greater levels of ΦPSII during chilling, indicating reduced photodamage. Additionally, accession RU2012‐112 maintained a stable Asat throughout the 15‐day chilling period, while Asat continuously declined in other accessions; this suggests RU2012‐112 could outperform others in lengthy chilling periods. Plants were returned to 25°C after the chilling period; M. x giganteus showed the weakest recovery after 1 day, but a strong recovery after 1 week. This study has therefore identified important genetic resources for the synthesis of improved lines of M. x giganteus, which could facilitate the displacement of fossil fuels by cellulosic bioenergy.

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The LongLab is supported by many public and private partnerships, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the UK Government's Department for International Development, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

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