Genetic improvement of Sorghum as a biofuel feedstock: II. QTL for stem and leaf structural carbohydrates
Digestion and fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass (i.e., structural carbohydrates) are predicted to deliver higher yields of energy per hectare than sugar and starch (nonstructural carbohydrates), yet little research on genetic variation in crop feedstock biomass traits has been conducted. We investigated the genetic basis of leaf and stem biomass yield and composition in a population derived from a high-biomass sweet sorghum, ‘Rio’, and a grain sorghum inbred line, ‘BTx623’, and compared these results with those from analyses of grain and stem sugar traits that we reported previously. Thirty-one traits were evaluated and a total of 110 quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified across three locations. Many QTL for structural and nonstructural carbohydrate yields colocalized with loci for height, flowering time, and stand density–tillering. Quantitative trait loci for composition had little colocalization across tissues and environments. Separate genetic control for leaf and stem structural carbohydrate composition was identified, as well as separate genetic control of protein accumulation in leaf, stem, and grain. To maximize energy yields from grain and dedicated biomass sorghums, results suggest yield traits should be targeted for improvement before composition traits.