Accelerating the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) breeding cycle using genomic selection approaches
Lipka, A.E.; Fei Lu; Cherney, J.H.; Buckler, E.S.; Casler, M.D.; Costich, D.E.
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a perennial grass undergoing development as a biofuel feedstock. One of the most important factors hindering breeding efforts in this species is the need for accurate measurement of biomass yield on a per-hectare basis. Genomic selection on simple-to-measure traits that approximate biomass yield has the potential to significantly speed up the breeding cycle. Recent advances in switchgrass genomic and phenotypic resources are now making it possible to evaluate the potential of genomic selection of such traits. We leveraged these resources to study the ability of three widely-used genomic selection models to predict phenotypic values of morphological and biomass quality traits in an association panel consisting of predominantly northern adapted upland germplasm. High prediction accuracies were obtained for most of the traits, with standability having the highest ten-fold cross validation prediction accuracy (0.52). Moreover, the morphological traits generally had higher prediction accuracies than the biomass quality traits. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the quality of current genomic and phenotypic resources available for switchgrass is sufficiently high for genomic selection to significantly impact breeding efforts for biomass yield.