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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Polyploid Genomics of Perennial Warm-Season Grasses for the Southern United States

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this cooperative research project is to develop and utilize informative DNA markers for the characterization of polyploid genomics (structural and functional) relevant to improvement of target warm-season grass species for bioenergy, forage, and turf.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Expressed-sequence-tag-simple-sequence-repeats (EST-SSRs) will be developed from DNA sequences and screened to identify informative markers for wild accessions and breeding germplasm of species within the genera Panicum, Pennisetum, Paspalum, Sorghum, and others. For taxa in which little genomic data exists, EST-SSRs will be used to estimate genetic diversity and genome complexity. For those taxa in which hybrid populations exist, suitable EST-SSRs will be used to initiate genetic mapping studies for traits of interest. For taxa in which informative EST-SSRs align to available comparative genomic resources, candidate genes for valuable traits (perenniality, apomixis, etc.) will be investigated for expression, function, and divergence. Results from this research will provide better understanding of evolutionary relationships, marker-trait associations, hybridization limits, and gene function towards breeding improved cultivars, preserving germplasm resources, and enhancing sustainability within agriculture systems.


3.Progress Report

This is a new project with the goal of investigating the genomics and genetic diversity of warm-season grasses that are grown for turf, bioenergy feedstocks, and forages in the southern U.S. Project work in FY 2011 included a genetic survey, utilizing more than 150 molecular markers, to establish the genetic relationships and diversity among common bermudagrass, 12 bermudagrass cultivars, and 2 elite bermudagrass breeding lines. Analysis and interpretation of data are underway. In another aspect of FY 2011 project work, 343 molecular markers were used to identify and separate the hybrids from the non-hybrids (selfs) of more than 100 progeny that resulted from crosses between two Stenotaphrum species (St. Augustine grass and pemba grass). In project work focused on sorghum, a population of 130 F4 inbred lines from hybrids between grain sorghum (S. bicolor) and a related species (S. propinquum) was developed and will be used to map the genes controlling rhizome development. This project, as it continues, will provide important genetic information that will be foundational in the breeding and improvement of certain southern grasses and in the development of improved cultivars that will be used as turf, bioenergy, and forage purposes. The ADODR of this project and the cooperator maintain periodic communication by phone and e-mail, where progress of the work is discussed and evaluated, and where solutions to work impediments are developed. The ADODR and cooperator meet periodically (at national scientific meetings, etc.) where they discuss the direction and progress of the work.


Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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