Conservation, Adaptation and Seed Zones for Key Great Basin Species
Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing
2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Collect germplasm from diverse sites and ecological areas across the Great Basin.
2. Establish common gardens studies at contrasting sites, determine adaptive plant traits, and assess genetic variation across the landscape.
3. Using regression modeling, relate plant traits to environmental factors and develop seed transfer zones.
4. Conserve and distribute collected germplasm available through the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station seed repository and the National Plant Germplasm System.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Seeds collected from diverse areas in the Great Basin will be used in common garden studies at Central Ferry, WA, and either at Reno or Fallon NV, cooperative with University of Nevada and the Fallon Plant Material Center. Each garden will consist of seeds collected from at least 100 diverse locations. For each location there will be two families represented in a randomized block design with 6 replications. This will result in 1200 to 1800 plants per site per species. Numerous traits describing plant growth and devleopment will be measured on each plant. Analyses of variance will be conducted for each trait to determine seed source variation. Previous work with Mountain Brome, Tapertip onion, Bluegbunch wheatgrass and Indian ricegrass all show strong genetic variation across the landscape. So this result is expected for most species and suggests differences in adaptation to local environments. Principal components will be used with regression analysis to model the relationship between plant traits and local environmental factors such as precipitation, temperature and elevation. This will provide the basis for mapping seed adaptation zones.
Basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus) provides both forage and cover to livestock and wildlife throughout the intermountain West. In fall 2009, a comprehensive collection of 125 basin wildrye accession was completed across the Great Basin and Columbia Basin. In 2010, seed was cleaned, grown in the greenhouse, and plants transplanted to common gardens at Pullman and Central Ferry WA research sites. Evaluation for 15 plant descriptors was completed at the two common garden sites was completed in the summer of 2011 and will continue in 2012. This data will form the basis of genecology studies of Basin wildrye. Thurbers' needlegrass (Achnatherum thurberianum) and Bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) are both important forage species adapted to Western rangelands. Extensive collections of both were completed in spring-summer 2010 in the Columbia and Great Basins. Plants of these collections have been established and will be planted in common gardens for evaluation, genecology studies, and seed zone development.