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August 17, 2009

Bluegrass hybrids ideal for pasture and for lawns could be developed faster using genetic markers developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist .

Texas and hybrid bluegrasses grown in replicated small plots at Woodward were evaluated for vigor, persistence, disease resistance, and forage / turf traits.
Photo by Jason Goldman

ARS geneticist Jason Goldman at the Southern Plains Range Research Station in Woodward, Okla., identified nine DNA primers that produce markers that can verify successful bluegrass hybrids from DNA samples. This saves time because breeders currently have to wait for the plant to mature before they can verify a hybrid by physical characteristics. The markers can be used on seedlings.

Goldman's goal is a Kentucky bluegrass-like lawn or pasture grass that is highly tolerant to drought. The research is part of the breeding program for perennial cool-season forage grasses for the southern Great Plains as alternatives to wheat and other annual crops.

Texas bluegrass is native to southern Kansas, Oklahoma, western Arkansas and most of Texas. It tolerates heat and drought, but produces seed that is difficult to harvest and re-plant. It also lacks the turf quality of Kentucky bluegrass. Kentucky bluegrass is not tolerant to heat and drought, but it has excellent turf characteristics and produces seed that is easy to harvest and clean.

Goldman's goal is to combine them into one variety with a broader geographic range than Kentucky bluegrass , while retaining Kentucky bluegrass' good qualities. The hybrid must also retain Kentucky bluegrass' ability to produce seed breeds true, ensuring identical progeny.

This research was published in the journal Plant Breeding .

ARS is the main intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Creating the Best Drought Resistant Grass

Drought-tolerant bluegrass hybrids could be developed more quickly using genetic markers developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

Geneticist Jason Goldman, who works at the ARS Southern Plains Research Station in Woodward, Oklahoma, identified nine DNA primers that produce markers that can verify successful hybrids of the blue grass of the DNA samples. This ability saves time because currently grazers can not identify a hybrid by their physical characteristics before the plant matures. Markers can be used on seedlings.

Goldman's goal is to develop a bluegrass grass similar to Kentucky bluegrass that has a high level of drought tolerance. The research is part of the ARS program of breeding fresh-season perennial grasses for the Great Southern Plains as alternatives to wheat and other annual crops.

Texas Bluegrass is native to southern Kansas, Western Arkansas, and most of Texas. This grass tolerates heat and drought, but produces seeds that are difficult to harvest and replant. It also lacks the quality of Kentucky bluegrass. Kentucky bluegrass is not heat and drought tolerant, but it has excellent lawn characteristics and produces seeds that are easy to harvest and clean.

Goldman plans additional trials to cross Texas bluegrass with other bluegrass species in addition to Kentucky bluegrass, and to determine whether markers can be used for other purposes, such as to identify markers related to desirable traits or The findings of this research were published in the journal Plant Breeding.

ARS is the leading scientific research agency of the United States. US Department of Agriculture

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