A Review of Recent Molecular Genetics Evidence for Sugarcane Evolution and Domestication

Laurent Grivet, C. Daniels, J. C. Glaszmann, A. D'Hont


In 1987, J. Daniels and B. T. Roach published an
exhaustive multidisciplinary review of evidence permitting
the domestication and the early evolution of sugarcane
to be traced. We try here to synthesize the new data
that have been produced since, and their contribution to
the understanding of the global picture. It is now highly
probable that sugarcane evolved from a specific lineage
restricted to current genus Saccharum and independent
from lineages that conducted to genera Miscanthus and
Erianthus. The scenario established by E. W. Brandes
in 1958 is very likely the right one: Noble cultivars (ie.
Saccharum officinarum) arose from S. robustum in New
Guinea. Humans then spread these cultigens over large
distances. In mainland Asia, natural hybridization with S.
spontaneum occurred, and gave rise to the North Indian (S.
barberi) and Chinese (S. sinense) cultivars. Relationships
between S. spontaneum and S. robustum in situations of
sympatry are still not well understood.

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