Sugarcane Gene Pool

By Agropedia on 20 Apr 2016 | read

Submitted by raghupathy_bala

S. officinarum is the original sugarcane species. It is supposed to have originated in the Indonesian Archipelago. The species does not occur wild in nature but was grown and maintained for a long time by the natives of these islands. Later on it came to be cultivated in south India. There are two other cultivated species: S. barberi and S. sinense. These species are believed to be hybrid derivatives involving S. officinarum and wild species. S.barberiwas grown in northern parts of India, while S. sinense was cultivated in China. These two species are no more under cultivation with the advent of improved varieties that have been developed through complex hybridization. There are several other species and genera related to sugarcane.

Commercial cultivars, the products of S. officinarum, S. spontaneum, S. barberi and S. sinense, constitute the primary gene pool since potential cultivars can be fixed in the first sexual generation itself. The cultivated species S. officinarum, S. barberi and S. sinense can be considered as secondary gene pool since involvement of these species in varietal improvement would involve a few generations of breeding. S. spontaneum and S. robustum constitute the tertiary genepool since it takes a number of generations to eliminate the undesirable effects of these wild species during varietal development. The allied genera can be termed as distant gene pool and these have not been successfully utilised so far. Of these, the only cane forming species Erianthus arundinaceus is drawing a lot of attention of the breeders world wide especially because of its high biomass producing ability and resistance to biotic and abiotic stesses

From breeding point of view it is sufficient to consider only S. officinarum, S.spontaneum, S. robustum and Erianthus arundinaceus since S. barberiand S. sinense are widely believed to be materials of introgression between S. officinarum and S.spontaneum (Brandes, 1958a). Among the three wild species, utilisation of S. robustum has not been very successful so far, perhaps because it is genetically very much close to S.officinarum as revealed by investigations employing molecular techniques. Hence,the cultivated S. officinarum and the wild S. spontaneum and Erianthus arundinaceus, in addition to the vast array of commercial varieties, constitute the most important materials available to the breeder for sugarcane improvement

The present day commercial varieties are the products of crossing, inter-crossing and back-crossing involving these two species in addition to the cultivated S. barberi and S.sinense. These cultivated varieties combine all the desirable attributes of S. officinarum and the resistance factors of S. spontaneum in addition to its ability to produce high biomass. 

a. Brandes, E.W. 1958. Origin, classification and characteristics. In E. Artschwager and E.W. Brandes. Saccharum officinarum L. U.S. Dept. of Agric. Handbook. pp. 122

b. Bremer, G. 1923.A cytological investigation of some species and species hybrids within the genus Saccharum. Genetica, 5: 97-148.