Creating the Ultimate Drought-Resistant Lawn/Pasture
By Don Comis
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)
Goldman at the agencys
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.
Goldmans goal is a Kentucky bluegrass-like lawn or pasture grass that
is highly tolerant to drought. The research is part of the laboratorys
program for breeding 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 has
excellent turf characteristics and produces seed that is easy to harvest and
Goldmans 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 that breeds true, ensuring identical
Goldman plans further tests to cross Texas bluegrass with other bluegrass
species in addition to Kentucky bluegrass, and to see if the markers can be
used for other purposes, such as identifying markers linked to desirable or
undesirable plant traits.
This research was published in the journal Plant
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.