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Post-glacial evolution of Panicum virgatum: centers of diversity and gene pools revealed by SSR markers and cpDNA sequences

Abstract

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a central and Eastern USA native, is highly valued as a component in tallgrass prairie and savanna restoration and conservation projects and a potential bioenergy feedstock. The purpose of this study was to identify regional diversity, gene pools, and centers-of-diversity of switchgrass to gain an understanding of its post-glacial evolution and to identify both the geographic range and potential overlap between functional gene pools. We sampled a total of 384 genotypes from 49 accessions that included the three main taxonomic groups of switchgrass (lowland 4x, upland 4x, and upland 8x) along with one accession possessing an intermediate phenotype. We identified primary centers of diversity for switchgrass in the eastern and western Gulf Coast regions. Migration, drift, and selection have led to adaptive radiation in switchgrass, creating regional gene pools within each of the main taxa. We estimate that both upland-lowland divergence and 4x-to-8x polyploidization within switchgrass began approximately 1.5–1 M ybp and that subsequent ice age cycles have resulted in gene flow between ecotype lineages and between ploidy levels. Gene flow has resulted in “hot spots” of genetic diversity in the southeastern USA and along the Atlantic Seaboard.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Nick Baker, USDA-ARS, Madison, WI, and Jonathan Markham and Wesley Dean, University of Georgia, for assistance with field-plot establishment and maintenance. We thank Dr. Ken Vogel, USDA-ARS, Lincoln, NE, for many fruitful discussions, particularly his suggestion of the connection between Fort Robinson and U.S. Army bases in the eastern USA. We thank Denise Costich, USDA-ARS, Ithaca, NY, for kindly supplying a confirmed hexaploid control plant for our flow cytometry assays. We also thank Donna Tabor, Fort Bragg Historian, U.S. Army, for assistance in locating written historical records. We thank the Florida State Park Service for permission to collect switchgrass accessions on Florida State Park lands. This work was funded in part by the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC, DOE Office of Science BER DE-FC02-07ER64494). Additional funding for this project was provided by the following organizations and grants: USDA-ARS CRIS Project Nos. 3655-41000-003-00D and 3655-41000-004-00D; the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Research Stations; the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; the Ministry of Science and Technology, PR China, Project Nos. 2008BADB3B04, 2009BADA7B04, and 2011AA100209; and Project 1.3.3.3 of the DOE BioEnergy Science Center (BESC, DOE Office of Science BER DE-AC05-00OR22725). Both GLBRC and BESC are U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science. This project represents a formal collaboration between GLBRC, BESC, and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. Mention of a trademark, product name, or brand does not imply endorsement of a product over any other product by the USDA-ARS, the University of Georgia, or the U.S. Department of Energy. Panicum hallii sequence data were kindly provided to us by Eli Meyer and Tom Juenger of the University of Texas, Austin, TX. Their efforts were supported through National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program NSF IOS 0922457. Christian Tobias, USDA-ARS, Albany, CA kindly provided the full chloroplast sequence of P. virgatum cv. Kanlow as a reference genome for alignment of P. hallii fragments.

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Correspondence to Juan E. Zalapa.

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The authors Yunwei Zhang, Juan E. Zalapa and Andrew R. Jakubowski contributed equally to the work described in this manuscript.

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Zhang, Y., Zalapa, J.E., Jakubowski, A.R. et al. Post-glacial evolution of Panicum virgatum: centers of diversity and gene pools revealed by SSR markers and cpDNA sequences. Genetica 139, 933 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10709-011-9597-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10709-011-9597-6

Keywords

  • Switchgrass
  • DNA markers
  • Genetic diversity
  • Genetic structure
  • Post-glacial migration