Target enrichment sequencing of 307 germplasm accessions identified ancestry of ancient and modern hybrids and signatures of adaptation and selection in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.), a 'sweet' crop with 'bitter' genomes

Plant Biotechnol J. 2019 Feb;17(2):488-498. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12992. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) is a highly energy-efficient crop primarily for sugar and bio-ethanol production. Sugarcane genetics and cultivar improvement have been extremely challenging largely due to its complex genomes with high polyploidy levels. In this study, we deeply sequenced the coding regions of 307 sugarcane germplasm accessions. Nearly five million sequence variations were catalogued. The average of 98× sequence depth enabled different allele dosages of sequence variation to be differentiated in this polyploid collection. With selected high-quality genome-wide SNPs, we performed population genomic studies and environmental association analysis. Results illustrated that the ancient sugarcane hybrids, S. barberi and S. sinense, and modern sugarcane hybrids are significantly different in terms of genomic compositions, hybridization processes and their potential ancestry contributors. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis showed a large extent of LD in sugarcane, with 962.4 Kbp, 2739.2 Kbp and 3573.6 Kbp for S. spontaneum, S. officinarum and modern S. hybrids respectively. Candidate selective sweep regions and genes were identified during domestication and historical selection processes of sugarcane in addition to genes associated with environmental variables at the original locations of the collection. This research provided an extensive amount of genomic resources for sugarcane community and the in-depth population genomic analyses shed light on the breeding and evolution history of sugarcane, a highly polyploid species.

Keywords: Saccharum spp.; domestication; environmental association analysis; germplasm; linkage disequilibrium; selection; selective sweeps; sugarcane; target enrichment sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Alleles
  • Chimera
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Plant / genetics*
  • Genomics*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Polyploidy
  • Saccharum / genetics*
  • Saccharum / physiology