Steve Larson, PhD Forage & Range Research Lab Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-6300 435-797-1703 Steve.Larson@ars.usda.gov
Extraordinary plants are required for efficient and sustainable feedstock production in the unique growing environments of the Western U.S. Experimental grass hybrids developed by the FRRL display vigorous vegetative growth, biomass capacity, forage quality, and climatic adaptation. These hybrids are being used to identify genes and novel trait combinations needed to create new agricultural opportunities and enrich native environments.
Plant genetic diversity and gene discovery research is used to identify, select, and develop improved plant materials for sustainable stewardship of rangelands, pastures, and other growing environments in the Western U.S.
High resolution DNA fingerprinting and DNA sequencing (barcodes) are being used to elucidate population structure and genetic variation within and between North American Leymuswildryes and other perennial grasses adapted to the Western United States.
Molecular genetic maps, EST libraries, and bacterial artificial chromosomes (BAC) genomic DNA libraries are being developed for interspecific hybrids of basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus)and creeping wildrye (Leymus triticoides). These materials are being used to identify genes and markers associated with specific traits of interest including plant height, rhizome spreading, heterosis, and other biomass traits heterosis; seed shattering and other seed production traits; forage quality including lignin, fiber, and mineral content; and other critical traits.
Integrated methods of hybrid seed production, hybrid breeding, and marker-assisted selection will be used to develop Leymuswildryes and other large-stature grasses, including intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium), as dryland biomass crops and feedstocks naturally adapted to the cold growing environments of this region.
Molecular genetic maps and markers will be developed for tall fescue (Festuca arundinaceae)and meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis)breeding populations adapted to the Western United States.