Miscanthus breeding

Breeding objectives

Miscanthus breeding at IBERS began in 2004, with the collection of germplasm from European and Asian sources. Scientists in the IBERS Biorenewables and Environmental Change programme and breeders have one of the largest Miscanthus collections outside Asia.

Miscanthus, a C4 grass native to Eastern Asia, has a high biomass potential. DEFRA identified Miscanthus as one of the two potential species worth developing for bioenergy in the UK. The Miscanthus breeding programme at IBERS delivers both to UK and international efforts to provide sustainable renewable bioenergy through the production of varieties with high net energy yields per hectare that are cheap to establish, harvest and process. This new programme draws on a wide base of expertise within the institute and combines these with commercial expertise in the UK and the US.

Phenotypic characterisation of the germplasm at multiple locations is being used to identify key traits.The overall breeding objectives are:

  • Increase net energy yield per hectare
  • Increased yield
  • Reduced moisture content at harvest
  • Tailor physical and chemical composition to different end-use applications
  • Increased lignin content and decreased corrosive elements for thermal conversion
  • Reduced lignin content for next generation biofuels from lignocellulose 
  • Reduce propagation costs
  • High seed set rates
  • Reduce genetic vulnerability
  • Abiotic and biotic stress tolerance


Dr Richard Webster
Mrs Sue Youell