Plant Genome 11(1) (Mar 2018)
Switchgrass ( is a perennial native North American grass present in two ecotypes: upland, found primarily in the northern range of switchgrass habitats, and lowland, found largely in the southern reaches of switchgrass habitats. Previous studies focused on a diversity panel of primarily northern switchgrass, so to expand our knowledge of genetic diversity in a broader set of North American switchgrass, exome capture sequence data were generated for 632 additional, primarily lowland individuals. In total, over 37 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified and a set of 1.9 million high-confidence SNPs were obtained from 1169 individuals from 140 populations (67 upland, 65 lowland, 8 admixed) were used in downstream analyses of genetic diversity and population structure. Seven separate population groups were identified with moderate genetic differentiation [mean fixation index (Fst) estimate of 0.06] between the lowland and the upland populations. Ecotype-specific and population-specific SNPs were identified for use in germplasm evaluations. Relative to rice ( L.), maize ( L.), soybean [ (L.) Merr.], and Gaertn., analyses of nucleotide diversity revealed a high degree of genetic diversity (0.0135) across all individuals, consistent with the outcrossing mode of reproduction and the polyploidy of switchgrass. This study supports the hypothesis that repeated glaciation events, ploidy barriers, and restricted gene flow caused by flowering time differences have resulted in distinct gene pools across ecotypes and geographic regions. These data provide a resource to associate alleles with traits of interest for forage, restoration, and biofuel feedstock efforts in switchgrass.