KEY MESSAGE : We develop a set of universal genetic markers based on single-copy orthologous (COSII) genes in Poaceae. Being evolutionary conserved, single-copy orthologous (COSII) genes are particularly useful in comparative mapping and phylogenetic investigation among species. In this study, we identified 2,684 COSII genes based on five sequenced Poaceae genomes including rice, maize, sorghum, foxtail millet, and brachypodium, and then developed 1,072 COSII markers whose transferability and polymorphism among five bamboo species were further evaluated with 46 pairs of randomly selected primers. 91.3 % of the 46 primers obtained clear amplification in at least one bamboo species, and 65.2 % of them produced polymorphism in more than one species. We also used 42 of them to construct the phylogeny for the five bamboo species, and it might reflect more precise evolutionary relationship than the one based on the vegetative morphology. The results indicated a promising prospect of applying these markers to the investigation of genetic diversity and the classification of Poaceae. To ease and facilitate access of the information of common interest to readers, a web-based database of the COSII markers is provided ( http://www.sicau.edu.cn/web/yms/PCOSWeb/PCOS.html ).