Characterization of Saccharum Species Germplasm for Starch Content

M. M. Zhou, C. A. Kimbeng, S. J. Edme, A. L. Hale


The renewed interest in wild Saccharum species germplasm across sugarcane breeding programs has been necessitated by the need to widen the genetic base of breeding populations. Modern sugarcane cultivars were derived from inter-specific hybridization between S. officinarum and S. spontaneum. Very few genotypes were used in the initial hybridization event in 1900s resulting in narrow genetic diversity in modern sugarcane cultivars. Characterization of genotypes in the Saccharum collections would aid its utilization. Starch is considered as an impurity in sugarcane juice because it adversely affects the quantity and quality of sugar products, refining processes and is negatively associated with sucrose content. Therefore knowledge about the starch content of S. spontaneum and other related species would be of interest to breeders. The objective of this study was to characterize the United States of America (USA) sugarcane wild germplasm and related species for starch content. The juice samples used in this study were collected at the United State Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS) Sugarcane Research Station at Houma, Louisiana; Canal Point and Miami, Florida germplasm collections. There were highly significant (P<0.001) differences in starch content among species and genotypes within species. There was a non-discrete distribution for starch within the species providing an opportunity for identifying low starch genotypes for use in germplasm enhancement programs. S. spontaneum genotypes produced the greatest variability for starch providing an opportunity for identifying low starch genotypes for use as parents. Cultivated species such as S. officinarum and S. robustum produced low starch indicating that low starch offered advantages for sucrose production. The results of this study would be more useful for parent selection within germplasm for introgression breeding.

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Journal of Plant Studies   ISSN 1927-0461 (Print)   ISSN 1927-047X (Online)  E-mail:

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